AI to Cause 14 Million Layoffs

A new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) indicates that artificial intelligence (AI) will cause 14 million jobs to be lost by 2027. The organization’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 shows that 590 million jobs will not change, while 69 million will be created and 83 million positions will be lost. (These industries are laying off the most workers.)

The research comes from a survey of 803 companies that employ 11.8 million people. It also covers 27 industries and 42 countries. According to the report, “Over 85% of organizations surveyed identify increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and broadening digital access as the trends most likely to drive transformation in their organization.”

The major employment sectors that will lose jobs are administrative roles, cashiers, ticket clerks, data entry, accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks, and secretaries. Cashiers already have been affected, at least in the United States, as check-out personnel at stores and fast-food companies have been replaced by machines. This is particularly evident at large companies with low-paid workers, such as Walmart and McDonald’s.

The research shows that areas that will remain largely unaffected require creative thinking and analytic skills. However, the jury remains out regarding these parts of the workforce as AI becomes more sophisticated.

One statistic that should worry some workers is that though 60% will need to be retrained, only 50% will have access to the necessary education.

What is unclear from the report is what will happen to those who will lose their jobs. The trend described in the WEF research could make unemployment in some parts of the economy spike. Most of these positions are low-paying, low-skilled jobs in which workers are unlikely to have the capacity to be retrained or to relocate to other industries. This, in turn, could create pockets of jobless people who will be permanently beyond the ability of businesses or governments to put back into the economy.

There always has been a worry that AI would put some people out of work and keep them out. The WEF’s report confirms that anxiety.

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