These Cities Will Lose the Most Jobs to Automation

February 4, 2019 by Thomas C. Frohlich

Source: kynny / Getty Images

The steady pace of technological developments continues to change the outlook on work. Some developments lead to optimism and others to fear, as the future of labor — if nothing else — will be vastly different than it is today.

The proliferation of automated tasks over the last three decades — commonly referred to as the Digital Revolution — led to a slight increase in the number of jobs, not mass joblessness as was feared. Yet massive changes in the way work is done preceded that outcome. Entire industries that adopted automated processed such as the use of industrial robots and computing technologies, for example, shed massive numbers of workers. This trend is far from over.

At least 70% of tasks performed in approximately 25% of jobs in the United States (36 million) could soon be substituted by automated techniques, according to a new report by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. These 36 million jobs are the most vulnerable to automation. Almost all occupations will be automated to some degree.

The intensity of the effects will be highest in industries that require predictable tasks. According to Brookings, office administration, production, transportation, and food preparation occupations will be most vulnerable to automation.

The risk posed by automation to job security varies across regions, states, and cities. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed metropolitan area labor markets to find those that are most vulnerable to automation. We used data published this January in the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Click here to see the cities at the greatest risk of automation.
Click here to see our detailed findings and full methodology.

Source: A. Balet / Wikimedia Commons

50. Yakima, WA
> Automatable share of work: 49.4% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 17.6%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 9.2%
> Population: 250,193

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49. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI
> Automatable share of work: 49.4% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.5%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 22.5%
> Population: 170,414

Source: TriciaDaniel / Getty Images

48. College Station-Bryan, TX
> Automatable share of work: 49.4% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 36.1%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 8.0%
> Population: 258,860

Source: Jeff Wood / Wikimedia Commons

47. St. Cloud, MN
> Automatable share of work: 49.4% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.0%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 14.4%
> Population: 197,759

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Source: Cindy Funk / Wikimedia Commons

46. Springfield, OH
> Automatable share of work: 49.4% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.1%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 16.0%
> Population: 134,557

Source: pasa / Flickr

45. Longview, TX
> Automatable share of work: 49.5% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.2%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 9.8%
> Population: 217,481

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44. Salisbury, MD-DE
> Automatable share of work: 49.5% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.8%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 7.6%
> Population: 405,853

Source: toddmedia / Getty Images

43. Tuscaloosa, AL
> Automatable share of work: 49.5% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.4%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 13.1%
> Population: 242,279

Source: 19187447@N00 / Flickr

42. Modesto, CA
> Automatable share of work: 49.6% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 17.5%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 12.3%
> Population: 547,899

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Source: Ron Reiring / Wikimedia Commons

41. Decatur, IL
> Automatable share of work: 49.6% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.2%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 16.5%
> Population: 105,801

Source: thyegn / Getty Images

40. Longview, WA
> Automatable share of work: 49.7% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 17.3%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 16.5%
> Population: 106,910

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39. Canton-Massillon, OH
> Automatable share of work: 49.7% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 21.6%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 18.6%
> Population: 399,927

Source: Ron Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

38. Merced, CA
> Automatable share of work: 49.7% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 13.4%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 11.0%
> Population: 272,673

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

37. Decatur, AL
> Automatable share of work: 49.8% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.5%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 20.6%
> Population: 151,867

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36. Bowling Green, KY
> Automatable share of work: 49.8% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.9%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 20.4%
> Population: 178,474

Source: bpperry / Getty Images

35. Lewiston, ID-WA
> Automatable share of work: 49.9% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.8%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 14.1%
> Population: 62,921

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34. Danville, IL
> Automatable share of work: 50.0% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.8%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 13.9%
> Population: 77,909

Source: formulanone / Flickr

33. Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH
> Automatable share of work: 50.0% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.7%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 11.5%
> Population: 119,664

Source: jjneff / Getty Images

32. Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL
> Automatable share of work: 50.1% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 19.3%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 21.3%
> Population: 114,728

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31. Albany, OR
> Automatable share of work: 50.1% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 17.3%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 16.1%
> Population: 125,047

Source: Rodrigo A. Rodriguez Fuentes / Getty Images

30. Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN
> Automatable share of work: 50.1% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 36.6%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 16.9%
> Population: 218,769

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Source: greeleygov / Flickr

29. Greeley, CO
> Automatable share of work: 50.1% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.5%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 9.6%
> Population: 304,633

Source: SEASTOCK / Getty Images

28. Lebanon, PA
> Automatable share of work: 50.1% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 22.2%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 14.8%
> Population: 139,754

Source: Bmag32 (Uploads) / Wikimedia Commons

27. Cleveland, TN
> Automatable share of work: 50.1% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.5%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 21.2%
> Population: 123,935

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Source: Michael-Tatman / Getty Images

26. Wausau, WI
> Automatable share of work: 50.1% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 25.8%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 20.7%
> Population: 135,732

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

25. Gainesville, GA
> Automatable share of work: 50.2% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.3%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 17.6%
> Population: 199,335

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24. Columbus, IN
> Automatable share of work: 50.3% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 35.1%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 36.4%
> Population: 82,040

Source: texasbackroads / Flickr

23. Mansfield, OH
> Automatable share of work: 50.4% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.8%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 20.7%
> Population: 120,589

Source: russfeld / Flickr

22. Auburn-Opelika, AL
> Automatable share of work: 50.5% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 33.4%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 14.2%
> Population: 161,604

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Source: pasa / Flickr

21. Terre Haute, IN
> Automatable share of work: 50.6% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 19.3%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 16.3%
> Population: 165,798

Source: Oralleff / Getty Images

20. Sheboygan, WI
> Automatable share of work: 50.6% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 25.2%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 31.0%
> Population: 115,344

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

19. Muskegon, MI
> Automatable share of work: 50.7% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 19.4%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 28.5%
> Population: 173,693

Source: Michael Munster / Getty Images

18. Joplin, MO
> Automatable share of work: 50.7% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 22.7%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 19.3%
> Population: 178,507

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

17. Lima, OH
> Automatable share of work: 50.8% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 19.7%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 17.6%
> Population: 103,198

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16. St. Joseph, MO-KS
> Automatable share of work: 50.9% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.8%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 19.6%
> Population: 127,092

Source: nashvillecorps / Flickr

15. Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL
> Automatable share of work: 50.9% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 22.2%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 15.0%
> Population: 147,038

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14. Odessa, TX
> Automatable share of work: 50.9% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 13.9%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 5.4%
> Population: 157,087

Source: Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons

13. Michigan City-La Porte, IN
> Automatable share of work: 51.0% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.9%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 21.6%
> Population: 110,029

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

12. Morristown, TN
> Automatable share of work: 51.3% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 14.9%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 21.9%
> Population: 118,081

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

11. Fort Smith, AR-OK
> Automatable share of work: 51.5% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.1%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 16.0%
> Population: 282,086

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

10. Gadsden, AL
> Automatable share of work: 51.5% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 19.3%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 17.4%
> Population: 102,755

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9. Sioux City, IA-NE-SD
> Automatable share of work: 51.6% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 22.1%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 21.2%
> Population: 169,131

Source: zrfphoto / Getty Images

8. Gettysburg, PA
> Automatable share of work: 51.6% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 22.9%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 15.1%
> Population: 102,336

Source: sshepard / Getty Images

7. Harrisonburg, VA
> Automatable share of work: 52.0% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.0%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 15.3%
> Population: 134,442

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Source: Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) / Wikimedia Commons

6. Burlington, NC
> Automatable share of work: 52.2% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.4%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 18.6%
> Population: 162,391

Source: kenlund / Flickr

5. Grand Island, NE
> Automatable share of work: 52.4% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.0%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 17.3%
> Population: 85,936

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4. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC
> Automatable share of work: 52.6% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 17.9%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 27.2%
> Population: 366,534

Source: kenlund / Flickr

3. Elkhart-Goshen, IN
> Automatable share of work: 54.6% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.2%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 37.5%
> Population: 205,032

Source: davidwilson1949 / Flickr

2. Kokomo, IN
> Automatable share of work: 54.7% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.4%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 28.1%
> Population: 82,363

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1. Dalton, GA
> Automatable share of work: 56.0% of tasks
> Percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 13.5%
> Civilians employed in manufacturing: 42.0%
> Population: 144,440

Detailed Findings

While no labor market will be spared the effects of automation in the coming decades, manufacturing and agricultural industries are considerably more vulnerable than others. In turn, local economies with long histories and ongoing specialization in these industries will be most vulnerable to changes brought on by automation.

Production, transportation, and construction-installation occupations are more heavily concentrated in areas that have above average projected automation exposure. In 44 of the 50 metro areas on this list, the percentage of workers employed in the manufacturing sector, for example, exceeds the national average share of 10.1%.

Based on the potential of being automated, relatively safe jobs include health care, personal services, and education occupations. No metro area on this list consists of above-average shares of professional, scientific, and management sector jobs.

Methodology

To identify the metro job markets at the greatest risk of automation, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data published this January in the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. The percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, the percentage of civilians employed in manufacturing jobs, and the population of each metropolitan area came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.