Artificial intelligence and robots have evolved hugely in recent years and their relentless march could eliminate 73 million U.S. jobs by 2030, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute. Despite the rise in automation, those losses could be offset by rising productivity, economic growth and other factors. Still, maintaining full employment is likely to be a challenging proposition with both the economy and labor market requiring massive overhauls to remain competitive.
The report found that the number of American jobs lost due to midpoint automation could add up to 39 million while 73 million could be destroyed by rapid automation. Despite that, about 20 million displaced workers could still be shifted into similar jobs where they could tackle slightly different tasks. In the U.S. and other developed countries, a significant share of workers may need to learn new skills or be retrained entirely.
A third of the 2030 workforce in the U.S. and Germany may need to learn new skills, along with nearly half in Japan. Under the worst case scenario, China and India would also suffer badly from automation, losing 236 and 120 million jobs by 2030 respectively. Japan would have 30 million displaced workers, Mexico would have 18 million and Germany would have 17 million. The jobs most vulnerable to automation tend to be physical positions in predictable environments. Examples include people working in the fast food trade or those operating machinery. The positions safest from automation are usually less predictable and include managers, engineers, scientists, teachers and plumbers.