Automation to Bring Massive Declines in Jobs

automation industry concept
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Several Industries to See 30%-Plus Declines by 2024

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is painting a grim picture of future employment, as automation is set to eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years.

The job that’s most at risk due to automation, according to the bureau, is locomotive firer, which involves monitoring trains. Locomotive firers are expected to lose about 70% of employment due to automation, effectively killing a whole section of middle-class jobs. (Source: “Employment Projections,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, last accessed June 1, 2017.)

Advancements in machinery and robotics are essentially decimating many jobs traditionally performed by humans, recreating the manufacturing drought that the U.S. has experienced, but now in several other industries.

Another grim outlook is for postal workers, who will have 136,000 fewer jobs in 2024 versus 2014, which accounts for a 28% decline.

Another sector that is headed toward a loss of over half its workforce is the motor vehicle electronic-equipment installers and repairers. In 2014, there were approximately 11,500 people employed in this area, and that number is set to dwindle to 5,800 by 2024.

Many of the jobs that the bureau points out will be culled by automation are in manufacturing, a long-suffering area of the U.S. economy that President Donald Trump has vowed to restore. Protecting those jobs will be more difficult than it sounds, as globalization and automation are proving to be immense roadblocks on the way to reviving industry in the U.S.

To make matters worse, while some of these jobs to be lost are lower-end in terms of income, some of these are strong, solid, middle-class jobs.

Locomotive firers, for instance, earn a median annual salary of $58,230. Postal workers also have a solid median annual wage, at $ 58,110.

The extent and depth of these job cuts could lead to another round of mass unemployment across the country unless proper measures are taken in order to account for these thousands of workers who one day soon might find themselves out of a job.

Laws are still being put in place regarding automation in many sectors, such as the automotive industry. But legislation can only slow down the inevitable for so long.

 

Sources:

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016: 53-4012 Locomotive Firers” and “Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016: 43-5052 Postal Service Mail Carriers,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, last accessed June 1, 2017.

Which U.S. Jobs Are Disappearing Fastest? [Infographic],” Forbes, May 31, 2017.

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