Fact of the Week: Workers Threatened by Automation Have Roles That Are 9 Percent More Complex Than Those Who Aren’t Threatened

Caleb Foote September 23, 2019
September 23, 2019

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Source: Seamus McGuinness, Konstantinos Pouliakas, and Paul Redmond, “Skills-Displacing Technological Change and Its Impact on Jobs: Challenging Technological Alarmism?” August 2019, IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Discussion Paper No. 12541.

Commentary: Discussions about job losses from automation tend to assume that innovation will overwhelmingly displace low-skill workers. But this view is misguided because it fails to recognize that low-skill jobs are the least profitable for companies to make obsolete. A new study of EU workers underscores this, finding that the 16 percent of workers who are most at risk of technological displacement are higher-skilled and doing more to improve their skills. At-risk workers earn 2 percent more, have jobs that are 9 percent more complex, and are 10 percent more likely to have improved their skill sets since starting their jobs than workers who are not at risk.