Is automation anxiety all hype?

A University of Oxford study predicts that automation will cause the most job losses in retail sales. /FlickrCC/pin add

See Arizona’s potential for job loss because of automation

By Mike Maciag | Governing

There is widespread concern these days that robots and automation will soon be permeating much of the American workforce — taking over factory floors, performing hospitality jobs, becoming ubiquitous in the casinos of Las Vegas. Even Silicon Valley worries about automation’s effects, although they likely won’t be as severe there as elsewhere.

Some recent studies add to these fears, predicting sizable job displacement from numerous forms of automation and artificial intelligence in virtually all corners of the economy. But just as automation will alter industries differently, its effects will be much more intensive in some regional economies.

To estimate the potential effects of automation in those areas, Governing utilized definitions in a University of Oxford study assessing the automatability of individual occupations, then compared them with the Department of Labor’s most recent occupational employment estimates for the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. About 65 percent of Las Vegas area jobs were found to be susceptible to automation, the highest in any metro area. Much of that stems from the region’s large armies of servers, food preparers, cashiers and other occupations thought to be highly automatable. El Paso, Texas, and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., similarly employ many of these workers, and registered the next-highest shares of potential automatability.


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