Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

tyson86_STRAFPGetty Images_work STR/AFP/Getty Images

America’s Uneven Future of Work

Because automation and artificial intelligence will change the nature of work for everyone, Americans who are vulnerable to technological disruption would appear to have been created equal. In fact, some workers are more equal than others.

BERKELEY – The US labor market is posting healthy numbers – for now. Yet Americans’ economic prospects vary significantly, depending on who they are and where they live, and these differences will sharpen as the pace of automation picks up in the decade ahead.

For starters, some of the US economy’s largest occupational categories – food service, office support, manufacturing production, and retail and customer service – are highly exposed to labor-saving automation. Moreover, new research from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that job displacement within these sectors is likely to be heavily concentrated among specific demographic groups.

Educational attainment emerges as the most critical factor determining the probability of automation-related job loss. Individuals with a high-school diploma or less are four times as likely to be in highly automatable roles than are individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher. People with no postsecondary education account for more than three-quarters of the overall displacement that could occur by 2030, based on a mid-point scenario of the pace of automation.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/NptJsjE;
  1. gros129_Thierry Monassepicture alliance via Getty Images_ursulavonderleyenEU Thierry Monasse/picture alliance via Getty Images

    What EU “Geopolitical” Power Will Cost

    Daniel Gros

    Ursula Von der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission, has promised to position the European Union as a geopolitical power that is capable of holding its own against the United States and a rising China. But the EU may come to regret any attempt to parlay its economic strength into geopolitical clout.

    12