As Automation Nears, These Counties Need to Find Alternatives
Study after study has warned of the coming job displacement as a result of technological advancements, but some counties and jobs are more at risk than others due to the coming of automation. A recent report attempts to show just which counties in the U.S. are most susceptible to having jobs lost due to automation.
Ball State University conducted the “How Vulnerable Are American Communities to Automation, Trade and Urbanization?” study at the university’s Center for Business and Economic Research and the Rural Policy Institute’s Center for State Policy. The findings proved dire for some states.
Georgia has five of the top 25 counties most vulnerable to automation, while Alabama has four. Alaska has two counties in the top five alone, as well as the most vulnerable county in the country, according to the survey.
Many of the states represented on this list are southern and typically left out of the conversation when talking about large hub states like New York and California. In fact, many of the coastal states to the West and many areas in the North seem to be better positioned to weather the storm of automation.
One of the reasons the study puts forward to explain this disparity is that cities often have more employment opportunities to begin with, and are therefore less likely to suffer from automation. Smaller communities, meanwhile, may have singular industries upon which they rely. Should they lose those industries, the results would naturally be dire for employment.
The study also compiled a list of the specific fields of employment most susceptible to a technology takeover. Unlike years past where assembly lines and other rote, repetitive, physical tasks were beginning to be filled by robots, the advancements in computing power are now making it easier to take over routine office jobs. Data entry, for instance, is among the top 10 most susceptible jobs.
Other fields of employment that are at risk of being automated include telemarketers, insurance underwriters, and tax preparers.
The future of automation seems to be targeting tasks that are on the menial side of things and often don’t require too much deviation from a routine. Millions of jobs are likely to be displaced as a result of technology currently in development, with many of these more rural areas likely to be hit the hardest.
“How Vulnerable Are American Communities to Automation, Trade and Urbanization?,” Ball State University CBER & Rural Policy Research Institute, June 19, 2017.