In a Today show interview with Ann Curry, U.S. President Barack Obama talked about one of the reasons he thought employment numbers have been slow to rebound: self-service automation, specifially, kiosks and ATMs.

In the interview, President Obama said, "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. All these things have created changes in the economy, and what we have to do ... is identifying where the jobs for the future are going to be."

According to the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein, ATM Industry Association CEO Mike Lee sent him an email response that said, in part, that "President Obama should never use ATMs as an example of how technology replaces human labor because ATMs today play a critical role in providing extensive employment in the ATM and cash-in-transit industries."

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Keith Dunne
    ATM are a key part oft he business world
  • Steve Mckay
    Thats what happens when you bail out the banks, they spend all of the money on ATMs? That was a ridiculous and factless comment by Mr. Obama.
  • Joe Aguayo
    Your E-mail subject line “Obama blames kiosks and ATMs for unemployment” is taken out of context and disingenuous. President Obama cited ATMs and kiosk as examples of U.S. business efficiency. You and all those at that approved the title should be ashamed of yourselves.
  • William Kisse
    Let's just file this foolish comment under the category of "STUPID!".

    How about a self-serve President?

    We could all cast a vote as citizens of the U.S. on how our government should be run.

    What a great idea!

    And just think how many people this new "self-service" industry would employ!
  • Brian Spaid
    Typical flame bait BS headline. Where exactly in that quote is he blaming kiosks for low unemployment? Pointing out that yesterday's jobs no longer exist and we need to look for new areas for employment is not the same thing as blaming the self-service industry for our current woes, which is your tacit allusion.
  • Herve Muller
    As a provider of self-service kiosk I take no issue with the President's comment. He is accurate, when technology allows us to do things more efficiently, we need to find other occupations for those who's job was replaced. Such as manufacturing kiosks, for one.
    I find the article and the headline wrongly critical and clearly politically motivated. Criticizing the President on a trivial point and turning an distording accurate statements into political rethoric has its place but not in a balanced technical and professional publication.
  • Victoria Preston
    Mr. Aguayo, the email subject line is spot on. It is not "taken out of context and disingenuous." While it is a standard part of a politician's repertoire to be vague, we must be intelligent enough to discern between what they say and what they mean. In his interview, he said that the reason private sector companies aren't hiring more people is not because of any of his policies or decisions, but because of automated machines like ATMs and airport baggage kiosks. Seriously? ATMs and kiosks were in existence long before he took office, so for him to blame them for unemployment is preposterous. So if there are any “structural issues” with our faltering economy, as the president said, it’s likely because of his policies – not ATMs. With a re-election on the horizon, he has to attribute unemployment to something other than himself. Guess I will just have to bypass the ATM to withdraw money to donate to his campaign.
  • Bryan Mccormick
    I find it depressing and disappointing that people are so quick to defend a guy whose policies are causing economic destruction and which have been shown to be, over and over, in country after country, a happy dream in philosophy and a horrible nightmare in reality. The entire context of the interview question, for those of you objecting to the headline, was the persistently high unemployment. The headline was perfectly fair and the only political tone I really hear in the threads is from those who object to calling Obama's comments what they were. Let's also remember that Obama thinks the entire American economy is a giant ATM, from which he can withdraw however much he wants, whenever he wants, to waste as he wants, without regard to how the owners of the accounts might object. Worse, Obama is using the ATM/Kiosk technology to withdraw money from the accounts of people who haven't earned it yet, haven't been born yet, and who nevertheless will be responsible for paying it back when the bills come due. How anyone can defend this completely immoral behavior as good economic policy just completely escapes me. And that's what you are doing, defending poor policy, when you whine and complain about a simple headline simply because you refuse to acknowledge what is right in front of your eyes. I, for one, can't wait to add a voting function to our national ATM footprint, so that every single time we make a transaction, every single time we think about the money we don't have because it was confiscated, wastefully spent, and unappreciated, we can cast a vote for another long awaited round of change.
  • Bill Lynch
    Can someone explain "swipe" that was supposedly made by the President? Did he denigrate the industry? Please curtail your political beliefs when answering.

  • Iain McKendry
    I don't see where Obama "takes a swipe" in his comments, he merely points out that in an increasingly automated world, we need to look for where the job market is going to be. That's hardly a swipe at the industry. Please don't stoop to tabloid style journalism in this publication, it's very poor behaviour, and merely makes me wonder whether your other articles are based on facts or are exaggerated from a desire to sensationalise otherwise mundane comment. Mike Lees email to Obama is also poorly thought through; I hope representation of our industry will be better thought out in the future but spending more than a few seconds before pressing "send".
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