With an unemployment rate around 4%, it seems that the current economy has enough work to keep America busy for now. But will it last? Between constantly improving robots, artificial intelligence, and software, jobs traditionally done by people are getting automated.
In fact, the Financial Times reported last year that most US manufacturing jobs have been lost to technology. A study from Ball State University found that 87% of manufacturing job losses from 2000 to 2010 were due to increased productivity. This disputes the recent narrative that jobs were outsourced to countries like China or Mexico.
Looking forward, a research paper from the University of Oxford estimates that almost half of all US jobs are at risk of being automated in the next few decades. Generally, low-skilled labor is the most at-risk. Jobs such as cashiers, retail workers, and drivers are already on their way out.
Maybe you’ve seen these self-driving trucks or fully automated restaurants. While these may seem like novelties at the moment, they are likely the wave of the future: robots don’t make mistakes, take a salary, unionize, or leave like their human competition does. For 3.5 million US truck drivers, and nearly 5 million retail sales workers, this trend could be worrying.
Are you safe in a higher-skilled job? Probably for now, but there are several exceptions. Many administrative jobs, such as accountants, loan officers, and clerks are likely to be automated by high-quality software and blockchain technology.
Meanwhile, careers that involve high-touch customer service, creative thinking, or decision-making are much less likely to be automated. You can find out more about your job’s risk of automation at this link.