Report: Next automation wave will claim 25 percent of current jobs

I walked into a McDonald’s the other day and used the automated kiosk to order my usual: a Big Mac value meal, which, back when a human took my order, took about 5 minutes to deliver, less if I gave a particular look to the human at the register. This time, I had what I came for after 15 minutes.

That’s the sort of automation that is taking people’s jobs and while many business owners say they’ll use automation to redeploy humans to deliver a better customer experience, many aren’t. That’s just the way it is. Even if you don’t lose your job, you’re feeling the impact in some fashion.

There are 1.3 million people in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northwestern Wisconsin who are going to lose their jobs thanks to computer-driven automation, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve reported this week.

“The impact is expected to fall disproportionately on workers in low-paying jobs and, in general, rural areas would be harder hit than metro areas, which have more diverse economies,” according to the Fed, which cited a Brookings Institution study.

One quarter of all jobs are at risk of being eliminated. Truck drivers and restaurant workers are particularly vulnerable.

And while one-third of the vulnerable jobs are in the Twin Cities, much of the impact will be felt in rural areas that don’t have many of the type of jobs the Cities have — so called “low-risk” jobs such as registered nurses and personal care aides.

There are, for example, four times as many truck drivers per 1,000 workers in western Wisconsin as in the Twin Cities.

In fact, the Twin Cities, Rochester, and Mankato (Minn.) take the lead with more than 40 percent of jobs at low risk. The Ninth District average is 38 percent, and the national average is 39 percent,

On average, 47 percent of the tasks involved in jobs throughout the district are easy to automate or will be in the foreseeable future, a percentage point higher than the national average.

As the jobs disappear, more might be created in other fields.

“Who in the 1980s could have foreseen job titles such as social media coordinator and search engine optimization specialist?” said the FedGazette story. “For another, just because a task can be automated doesn’t mean it will be. The investment can be too costly or disruptive for some businesses.”

But it seems undeniable that lower wage jobs will disappear and a lot of people are going to be out of work and as business charges ahead with the available technology, few people seem to have an idea how exactly the numbers are supposed to add up even if all the Baby Boomers take their leave.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)