Automation might kill up to 73 million jobs in the United States by 2030, but rising productivity, economic growth, and other forces could offset those losses shows a new report the McKinsey Global Institute released this week.
The director of research for the group and the study’s co-author Susan Lund said the dire prediction robots will take human jobs is overstated, as there will be a sufficient number of jobs for workers in the majority of sectors.
However, maintaining complete employment will require huge overhauls to the labor market and economy that rivals or surpasses the massive shifts in the nation from manufacturing- and agriculture-dominated societies over the last 165 years, says the report.
Lund added that she believes the transition will be a difficult one.
Artificial intelligence and machines have already started spreading rapidly with the push for autonomous driving vehicles, software that responds to inquiries by customers and robots able to man assembly lines, check inventory in stores and flip burgers.
Earlier in 2017 in a study, McKinsey found close to half of all activities at work worldwide have the potential technologically to become automated, but the latest report this week provides an assessment labeled more realistic that is based upon social, technical and economic factors. The study concludes that between 0% and 33% of work activities could be displaced on or before 2030.
In the United States, between 39 million and 73 million job positions could be lost, but nearly 20 million of the displaced workers would be able to shift easily into occupations that are similar, though they might be carrying out somewhat different tasks, says the report.
In other words, between 16 million and 54 million workers, which is equal to approximately 33% of the workforce in the U.S., would require retraining for new occupations.
Worldwide, as many as 800 million workers have the possibility of being displaced and up to 375 million could need to be taught new skills to shift occupational category. The U.S. and other advanced economies that have wages which are higher, are more vulnerable to labor saving technology being adopted.
The growth in employment required to replace jobs lost will come partly through automation itself, as new workers will be needed to man the machines, and from the increased economic growth and productivity that the new automation would generate through larger profits by companies and an increase in wages.