Jobs added after the recession are most at risk from automation

Nikhil Sonnad put together a nice interactive based on a working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne from the University of Oxford. Overall, there’s a decreasing relationship between median wage and likelihood of the position being automated. In other words, the people who can least afford to be unemployed are the most at risk.

More troubling, though, are some of the job categories threatened by automation: food preparation and servers, waiters, retail salespeople, and cashiers. Those same categories are the ones where the economy is adding the most jobs, according to Annie Lowry, reporting for the New York Times:

The National Employment Law Project study found especially strong growth in restaurants and food services, administrative and waste services and retail trades. Those industries — which often pay wages at the federal minimum — accounted for about 40 percent of the increase in private sector employment over the past four years.

That’s not good news. Back in September 2013, when Frey and Osborne wrote their working paper, they said 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being automated. Given the tenor of the recovery, I can’t see that decreasing. Which means that, in the next decade or two, we could be facing another employment crisis.

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