Study Finds One Workforce Robot Costs Six Human Jobs

Study Finds One Workforce Robot Costs Six Human Jobs

Automation is making human manual labour obsolete. Already, predictions on the future of the job market appear stark: PricewaterhouseCooper predicts that 30% of the UK’s jobs could be fulfilled by robots within 20 years, while up to 50% of the world’s population could be left unemployed by 2050. Now, a new study predicts that human redundancies in the US caused by automation could become even worse than imagined. A new study from MIT economists Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo, “Robots and Jobs: Evidence From US Labor Markets”, suggests that every robot added to the workforce will cost six humans their jobs. In their paper, the pair say, “we estimate large and robust negative effects of robots on employment and wages across commuting zones.”

“According to our estimates, one more robot per thousand workers reduces the employment to population ratio by about 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by 0.25-0.5 percent,” Acemoglu and Restrepo write.

“Quantitatively, our estimates imply that the increase in the stock of robots (approximately one new robot per thousand workers from 1993 to 2007) reduced the employment to population ratio in a commuting zone with the average US exposure to robots by 0.37 percentage points, and average wages by 0.73 percent, relative to a commuting zone with no exposure to robots. These numbers are large but not implausible,” the economists add. “For example, they imply that one more robot in a commuting zone reduces employment by 6.2 workers.”

Since automation affects manual labour more than any other vocation – a role which, statistically, relies on male staff – robot workers are set to render more men than women unemployed, the paper says.

“We also document that the employment effects of robots are most pronounced in manufacturing, and in particular, in industries most exposed to robots; in routine manual, blue collar, assembly and related occupations; and for workers with less than college education,” the paper explains. “Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, we do not find positive and offsetting employment gains in any occupation or education groups. We further document that the effects of robots on men and women are similar, though the impact on male employment is more negative.”

The US Government, though, seems to be in denial about this creeping unemployment crisis, despite prior warnings from the likes of tech magnate Elon Musk.

“I think that is so far in the future—in terms of artificial intelligence taking over American jobs—I think we’re, like, so far away from that [50 to 100 years] that it is not even on my radar screen,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a recent Axios event, frivolously unaware that his hubris was showing.


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