60% Of Jobs Will Be Automated In Next 20 Years, Says St. Louis Fed

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Posted: Sep 04, 2018 9:18 AM
60% Of Jobs Will Be Automated In Next 20 Years, Says St. Louis Fed

A St. Louis Fed Study concludes 60% of St Louis Jobs face automation threats. 80% of transportation jobs will vanish.

Please consider 60% of District's Jobs Could Face Automation in the Next 20 Years.

Advances in technology are almost always considered positive because they increase productivity and ease frustration of completing simple, menial tasks. However, technological improvement does not come without cost; some tech advancements can result in the automation of jobs that used to be performed by humans.

Currently, automation is occurring more in service and manufacturing positions. It is one factor that contributes to labor market polarization, or the disappearance of middle-income, routine task type jobs in the U.S. Despite a strong labor market, fear of job loss from automation is common. Some parents with young children already worry that robots will take all potential jobs for their children in the near future.

The short-term impact of automation is not directly observable, but two economists at the University of Oxford, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, attempted to quantify jobs that are at risk in a 2013 article about automation. The researchers used a machine-learning algorithm to estimate the probability that an occupation will become automated in the next few decades. The probability is calculated based on three major factors of the occupation: perception and manipulation, creative intelligence, and social intelligence. The result can be interpreted as the likelihood that engineers will be able to produce machinery that performs tasks required in each occupation.

The economists found that 47 percent of jobs in the U.S. are at risk of becoming automated. Jobs that are repetitive or routine-intensive have the highest probability of this happening. The economists predicted that the transportation and logistics occupations, as well as the office and administrative support occupations, will lose the most jobs to automation over the next decade or so.

The Oxford economists predicted that automation will occur in waves, first replacing routine tasks, then slowing as engineers reach a technological plateau. A good example, provided by Frey and Osborne, is that paralegals and legal assistants (which are considered relatively low-skill, routine-based occupations) are seeing their jobs quickly becoming automated; however, it will be a long time before computers are advanced enough to replace lawyers (whose jobs are considered high-skill, nonroutine).

Select Cities

  • 65% in Hot Springs AK
  • 61% in Fort Knox KY, Springfield MO, Louisville KY, Memphis TN
  • 60% in Evansville IN
  • 58% in St Louis MO
  • 56% in Little Rock AK

Little rock was the best performer. The national average was 47%.

Probability of Automation

Spotlight Transportation

Transportation is the fourth of 21 most likely occupations to be automated in the study. It's also the fourth largest employer in the study.

How Many US Transportation Jobs at Risk?

The American Trucking Association has employment estimates.

  • 7.4 million people employed throughout the economy in jobs that relate to trucking activity in 2015, excluding the self-employed.
  • 3.5 million truck drivers employed in 2016 (almost unchanged from 2015).

Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs


The BLS says there are 362,000 taxi drivers and chauffeurs. But there are huge problem with that number.

That estimate is for full-time drivers only, and it does not count self-employed. Thus, it does not count Uber and Lyft jobs.

Uber and Lyft Jobs

Ridester addresses the question: How Many Uber Drivers are There?

We do not have an answer because Uber is private. But Uber's CEO offered hints at which Ridester concludes about 2 million globally, half of those in the US.

Call it 1,000,000. That seems reasonable enough, and it does not count Lyft.

So, factor in Uber, Lyft, taxis and limo services and you are talking about a huge number of jobs that will eventually be 80% automated.

Timeframe?

Long-haul trucking jobs will vanish first. Within a couple of years of Department of Transportation approval of driverless interstate driving, I expect those jobs will nearly vanish.

Airport taxi and limo drivers will vanish next (or simultaneously).

I am looking at a 2022-2024 timeframe for both, at the latest, but trucking first, perhaps by a couple of years.

The pending disruption is massive.