Cue the “John Henry” metaphors.
What the steam drill did to that man with a hammer in his hand, robotics, silicon chips and algorithms might do to your paycheck.
A report this month from the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis mapped out where automation could, potentially, eliminate the most jobs. It concluded that areas with the most low-wage workers with the fewest skills would be hit hardest — places such as Las Vegas; El Paso, Texas; and Riverside, Calif. There, the researchers said, 63 to 65 percent of current jobs might become automated by 2035.
In the Kansas City area, according to the report, 58.3 percent of jobs at least have the potential to be “automatable.” That puts Kansas City near the middle of the 100 largest metro areas in the country.
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The institute’s map shows estimates for the share of jobs that could be automated. The bubble size represents the number of workers and the color suggests how many of their jobs are subject to automation in the next 20 years.
The researchers also projected that 45.1 percent of Kansas City wages could disappear — less than the number of jobs because low-end paychecks are the most vulnerable to machine replacement.
“Technical feasibility does not imply that automation necessarily makes economic sense. And historically, automation went hand in hand with new job creation both in skilled and less skilled labor,” Jess Chen, of the researchers, said in a news release. “However, the speed and the high share of automation in less skilled jobs raises many questions about whether the economy will be able to make up for the expected job losses.
“What we do expect is that automation will create winners and losers among cities and regions of the U.S., where losers may not recover to their original employment levels within even a decade’s time.”
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