American Workers to Lose Jobs to Automation
According to a recent report published by the investment advisory firm Cornerstone Capital Group, between six million and 7.5 million retail jobs may be automated in the coming years.
As of now, one in 10 Americans is working in the retail sector. This amounts to about 16 million people in the country who are earning their livelihoods in retail. According to the report, automation will cause about half of the American workers currently employed in the retail industry to go jobless.
The 56-page report suggests that once automation takes over, a significant number of retail employees will end up becoming “stranded workers.”
The study also discusses how various demographics in the United States will be affected following the automation of retail job functions.
The report warns that American women will be at a greater risk of facing layoffs. That’s because women make up about 73% of retail cashiers, and the cashier job function faces the greatest likelihood of being automated.
Likewise, low-income Americans will take the biggest hits from automation because they make up the greatest portion of hourly retail workers.
Automation is also expected to have broad economic and social implications on the country. Jon Lukomnik, the executive director of the institute that commissioned this study, said in a news release, “While the findings are important to investors, they should sound the alarm for economists and political leaders.”
He also said, “The shrinking of retail jobs in many ways threatens to mirror the decline in manufacturing in the US. Moreover, in this case, workers at risk are already disproportionately working poor, so any disruption may cause strains in the social safety net and stresses on local tax revenues.”
This year has been particularly devastating for Americans working in the retail sector. About 3,400 retail stores have so far closed this year, and the number is growing. The store closures have led to thousands of layoffs.
Credit Suisse analysts are forecasting store closures to hit 8,600 before the end of 2017. That would make this year the worst one in the history of U.S. retail. As of now, the worst recorded year in history based on store closures was 2008, when 6,163 stores closed down while America struggled through the Great Recession.
“A jobs threat worse than mass store closures could fire more than 7 million retail workers,” Business Insider, May 18, 2017.