ATMs (Or Something) Killed the Economy

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ATMOf all the dumb things that President Obama has ever said, this one ranks near the top. On Monday he told NBC News that the reason our economy sucks is because of ATMs. Seriously. In a one-on-one interview with Ann Curry, Obama explained:

There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.

This is worse than misspeaking. This is a basic lack of understanding of how the world works. It also shows a lack of knowledge, since the number of bank tellers in the United States has increased since the invention of electronic money spitter-outters. Consider this:

At the dawn of the self-service banking age in 1985, for example, the United States had 60,000 automated teller machines and 485,000 bank tellers. In 2002, the United States had 352,000 ATMs -- and 527,000 bank tellers.

I know math is hard, but it seems like both numbers went up. If ATMs killed jobs, then tellers would become obsolete. Not only have bank tellers not become obsolete, but they’ve increased in rank. 

Furthermore, even if tellers one day did become obsolete, would that be so bad? You know what else is obsolete? Chamber pots. Hand-cranked washing machines. Sanitary napkins that have to be pinned to your underpants. And I’m pretty sure that’s an SUV sitting in my garage, not a horse and buggy.

It’s called progress.

For President Obama to suggest that automated teller machines are to blame for the bad economy is silly at best. Maybe enough time has passed that he can no longer blame George W. Bush for everything. 


Image via Duc Digital/Flickr

barack obama, economy, media, politics, taxes

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Ryan Elizabeth Williams

Obama is not dumb....he was saying that if we decide that becoming the most effiecient and cost effective at running our capitalistic businesses is more important that giving a human a job, then the unemployment rate we currently have is one result.

momof... momof030404

That head in the sand thing seems to work even with presented with facts. Funny that.  It was a dumb thing to say when the FACTS completely contradict him!

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Ryan... maybe math is difficult for you as well, but the increase was rather hard to miss. They are not taking OVER, they are just another aspect. There are still teller jobs available.


Personally I can't wait for more things to be automated. There will be other jobs created and other demands that will need to be met, we can't place blame on change- we just have to change with it.

Ryan Elizabeth Williams

wow this site has taught me one thing: moms can never unite and will always judge one another thinking their way is better than the next person. Whatever happened to agreeing to disagree and not making snarky and lame comments just because there happens to be a difference of opinion? Apprently your FACTS are anothers OPINIONS.... just saying...

Ryan Elizabeth Williams

and computers are only as smart as the person who programmed them and the user. I like my customer service to come from people not from an automated machine.

butte... butterflymkm

Wow this is a total fail Jenny (as are most of your posts...) you & other conservatives enjoy saying that we take things republicans say out of context (what was that Sarah Palin & Paul Revere thing again....) but here you are! He didn't say automated stuff is BAD just that that is the way the world is changing, and it is. They are coming out with touchscreen drive through menus now for goodness sake. & that is cool. But we have to make sure that an equal number of jobs are being created to produce and repair the machines as the machines are taking over other positions. He was simply stating a fact about how the world is moving forward with technology. Nice way to cherry pick and twist words to fit your own agenda though.

nonmember avatar Brianna

If you notice, the increase in tellers is a much smaller percentage than the increase in ATM's. The number of banks would have increased since then which accounts for the number of tellers increasing, but ATM's have a much more predominant increase indicating a much higher percentage of use. Try math sometime, it works.

Jamie Metzger-Maxaner

Dont forget they also supply jobs for repair men...not just more tellers..

angev... angevil53

i wonder if you will be singing the same tune when a computer can write your blog.

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