The Robots are Coming to Take Your Jobs

Brookings released a report titled: “Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How machines are affecting people and places”. It focuses on areas of potential occupational change that can affect people and communities in the United States.

According to Brookings, “The gravest disruptions from automation in the coming decades will affect men, young workers, and underrepresented groups.” The report states that men, young workers, and underrepresented groups appear likely to face significantly more acute challenges from automation in the next phase than do women, prime-age workers, and whites.

Why is this so? One reason is because male workers make up 70 percent of production occupations, and over 80 percent of transportation occupations, and over 90 percent of construction and installation occupations. All of those occupations have above-average projected automation exposure.

Women, however, make up 70 percent of the labor force in occupations that are relatively safe from automation. These jobs include health care, personal services, and education occupations.

This does not mean women will be unaffected by AI and automation. Brookings says women make up 70 percent of the country’s clerical and administrative workforce. Those workers will face significant change driven by the adoption of more sophisticated software and AI tools.

The report also states that automation exposure varies across age groups. Prime-age workers (people ages 25 to 54) have an average current-task automation potential of 40 percent in the next few decades. For young workers (people ages 16 to 24), that number is 49 percent. Older workers (people age 55 to 64) see potential current-task automation of 41 percent.

Nearly half of young workers (people under the age of 25) are employed in the six occupation groups where average automation potential of current tasks exceeds 50 percent. These jobs include low-wage food prep jobs, which are projected to see as much as 80 percent task change in coming decades.

The report states that Hispanic and black workers face average current-task automation potentials of 47 percent and 44 percent for their jobs, well above those likely for their white counterparts (40 percent) and Asian counterparts (39 percent).

Ideally, companies who hire a lot of workers will take this into consideration and make an effort to find ways to keep people employed. Unfortunately, according to The New York Times, “many of your bosses want machines to replace you as soon as possible”. In my opinion, the United States should seriously consider instituting Universal Basic Income to help people when the robots come to take their jobs.

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