Robots, AI, and Automation will reduce net U.S. employment by 9.8 million by 2027
Forrester laid out its latest forecast of how automation will affect employment. In this research, I predict several outcomes:
- 14.9 million new jobs will be created. This is an aspect that is often overlooked: Automation will spur the growth of many new jobs, including some entirely new job categories. Demand for software developers will grow in concert with every type of automation technology, branching into new areas like robotics. Automation will also spur new opportunities for creative employment. One company, which just deployed a conversational chatbot, plans to hire a fiction writer. Why? To create an authentic, respectful engagement using appropriate “voice” and style.
- 24.7 million jobs will be lost by 2027. This equates to a job loss of 17% between 2017 and 2027. Physical robotics will place increasing pressure on jobs like manufacturing, which have already faced significant hollowing-out in the U.S. Other production jobs – such as inspectors, testers, sorters, warehouse pickers, and packaging and filing machine operators — will decline, too. But white collar jobs are far from immune: Sales roles will take a hit from increasingly automated self-service, and office and administrative support jobs will suffer due to software automating tasks, from meeting scheduling to clerical work.
- Net jobs lost to automation will reach 9.8 million. Taken together with the jobs-lost number, Forrester’s analysis yields a 7% of jobs lost in the U.S. economy by 2027. Some of these jobs will be replaced by new jobs outside of the automation economy, some will be reflected in the unemployment rate, and others will drop out of the labor force; the labor participation rate declined from 66.4% in January 2007 to 62.9% in January 2017.
- Automation will transform most jobs. The largest effect of automation will be job transformation, where humans will soon find themselves working side by side with robots. Budget directors working in the 1970s literally spent much of their time calculating budgets – by hand – with a pencil and a calculator. Today, budget directors focus their working hours on strategic and compliance tasks. Similarly, the jobs we do today will be aided by artificial intelligence and physical robots that take tasks off our plates, allowing us to focus on higher-order activities.