It’s no longer a question of “if” we’re going to all eventually be replaced with robot overlords in the workplace, it’s a question of “when”.
The nuances of how this is going to occur – like which industries are likely to see to the most disruption from automation – were the topic of a new study published by St. Louis Fed Economist Maximiliano Dvorkin and Research Associate Asha Bharadwaj.
The authors found that there has been predominantly a decline in U.S. “middle-skill” occupations as a result of automation. This was despite growth in both high- and low-skill occupations occurring at the same time.
According to the authors, this job polarization is a result of “automation and offshoring, because both these forces lower the demand for middle-skill occupations relative to the rest.”
In the study, the authors looked at two types of work:
- Whether jobs involve routine tasks or nonroutine tasks
- Whether jobs use mostly cognitive skills or manual skills (brain vs. brawn)
They also looked at how the state of employment has changed across these four categories:
- Nonroutine cognitive, which includes management, professional and related occupations
- Nonroutine manual, which includes service occupations related to assisting or caring for others, such as health care support, food preparation and serving, and cleaning
- Routine cognitive, which includes sales and office occupations
- Routine manual, which includes construction, transportation, production and repair occupations
The study found that “employment in nonroutine occupations, both cognitive and manual, has been increasing steadily for several decades, while employment in routine occupations has been mostly stagnant or even declining.”
Read more: The Rise Of Robots Is Crippling Jobs In The Already Recessionary Auto Industry