Automation, A.I., and At-Risk Jobs

Chelan-Douglas Trends Staff

Sometimes it might seem like most jobs are, or will eventually be, susceptible to replacement by automation. Experts already predict the top-3 industries susceptible to automation over the next decade are “production”, “food service” and “transportation”.

In a report by Brookings titled Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How Machines are Affecting People and Places suggests, “automation will bring neither apocalypse nor utopia, but instead both benefits and stress alike.”

Examining the known impacts of automation on jobs from 1980 to 2016, Brookings makes predictions for 2016 to 2030. Instead of net job gains or losses, the report “focuses on areas of potential occupational change”.

The long-haul trucking industry still moves the majority of materials and consumer goods across the country. According to RTS Financial, there are currently “more than 1.7 million heavy-duty and tractor-trailer truck driving jobs” in the U.S. During 2016, commercial truckers moved 10.42 billion tons of freight across our nation and a “trucker driver” was still the most common job in 29 U.S. states.  

The Forbes Technology Council has created a list of 13 different jobs they believe are most likely to be replaced by automation/ Highlights include: insurance underwriting, warehouse & manufacturing, research & data entry, local TV advertising, banking & retail checkout, fast food service, and of course, long haul trucking.

While not all at-risk jobs will disappear, some will, and it won’t be overnight. The ultimate sectors and the number of losses, only the future will tell. However, we do know how many people currently have jobs in sectors most susceptible to automation in the near future.

Looking at the 2018 annual employment averages offered by the Washington State Employment Security Department Covered Employment, during 2018 in Chelan and Douglas Counties combined, there were approximately:

  • 2,404 jobs in the “Manufacturing” sector (NAICS 2-digit 31-33), earning a total combined $106.8 million.
  • 733 jobs in the “Transportation and Warehousing” sector (NAICS 2-digit 48-49), earning a total combined $26.9 million.
    • The “Truck Transportation” sub-sector (NAICS 3-digit 484) held 184 jobs, earning a total combined $8.5 million.
  • 5,808 jobs in the “Accommodation and Food Services” sector (NAICS 2-digit 71-72), earning a total combined $123.9 million. 

Again, these are just predictions of a think-tank, but come as data-driven speculation. While losing millions of driving jobs will certainly affect future economies, it will undoubtedly decrease the number of fatal car accidents (40,000) and permanent injuries (2 million) caused each year in the U.S. by human operated motor vehicles.