How serious a threat is outsourcing of American jobs? Very. According to a recent study, one quarter of all U.S. jobs and half of all low-skill positions could be outsourced or automated. If this happens, millions of U.S. workers could be out of work in the coming years.
The study profiles specific communities that have become stuck in an economically depressed cycle, with a disproportionate amount of business expansion and job growth being experienced in a small number of metropolitan areas in the U.S.
In fact, since the U.S. recovery began in 2009, researchers say that “half the net establishment growth [or business formation] in the United States … occurred in just 0.64 percent of the more than 3,100 U.S. counties.”
Because of this, some areas have been able to diversify their local workforce and reduce exposure to outsourcing and automation. At the same time, other communities have seen local workforce jobs dry up.
Those who have in-demand skill sets are able to find jobs elsewhere and are more likely to move away. The low-skill opportunities left over, including industrial and manufacturing, are among the most at risk of automation or outsourcing.
The researchers said, “We do not wish to be alarmist. Both trade and automation related economic growth are hallmarks of a vibrant economy. The findings of direct and indirect impacts of displacement are not homogeneous across populations. The negative long-term impacts of displacement have been found to be worse for low-skilled, less-educated workers, who are likely to work in more vulnerable jobs.”
The Aleutians East Borough of Alaska was found to be the single highest-risk area for both offshorability and automation. Rural counties in Mississippi, Georgia, Indiana, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are also vulnerable to outsourcing and automation.
Communities Most At Risk to Offshoring
1. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska
2. Pontotoc County, Mississippi
3. Tippah County, Mississippi
4. Roseau County, Minnesota
5. LeGrange County, Indiana
6. Los Alamos County, New Mexico
7. Clinton County, Indiana
8. DeKalb County, Tennessee
9. Chickasaw County, Mississippi
10. Kosciusko County, Indiana
Communities Most At Risk to Automation
1. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska
2. Quitman County, Georgia
3. Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska
4. Buena Vista City, Virginia
5. Chickasaw County, Mississippi
6. Allendale County, South Carolina
7. Tyrrell County, North Carolina
8. Coosa County, Alabama
9. LeGrange County, Indiana
10. Murray County, Georgia
The authors of the study say that well-educated Americans are also susceptible to automation and outsourcing. Actuaries, statisticians, computer programmers, and film and video editors are some of the positions most at risk being found offshore instead, while telemarketers, library technicians, insurance underwriters, and mathematical technicians all face risk of automation.
For now, the safest jobs are audiologists, social workers, and recreational therapists. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers are also working in so-called “safe” professions–for now.
“How Vulnerable Are American Communities to Automation, Trade, & Urbanization?” Center for Business and Economic Research, last accessed July 24, 2017.
“Study: 1 in 4 U.S. Jobs At Risk of Offshoring,” U.S. News, July 17, 2017.