These Local Economies Will be Hit Hardest by Automation

A new report maps out where the most jobs will be lost to technology, and one Texas city ranked high.

By Alexandra HartMay 9, 2017 2:42 pm

One of the biggest threats to American jobs is automation – even more so than outsourcing. Many factory jobs that once buoyed the middle class are now lost to machines. But as technology advances, more than just manufacturing jobs are at risk.

Researchers at the University of Redlands analyzed and mapped out which areas are most vulnerable to job loss from automation. It isn’t just the Rust Belt either – it could hit much closer to home too.

“Historically, it’s been the production sector where industrial robots have been prevalent,” says Johannes Moenius, director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, which prepared the report.  “Now what we’re seeing is that a lot of that moves more into service type occupations, office and administrative support services or in food preparation and so on.”

Coming in at number two on the list of areas most vulnerable to automation is El Paso.

“El Paso, in our data, has a bit more than 250,000 jobs, and 50,000 of those are actually in office and administrative support occupations, which is one of the types of occupations that are highly susceptible to automation,” Moenius says.

But while many jobs may eventually be replaced by computers or robots, occupations that deal with human interactions should fare better, he says.

“Everything that has to do with very personal contact is safer than others, whether this is community services, whether it’s arts and entertainment, education, … management occupations, are safer than those directly involved in algorithmic operations,” Moenius says.

Maybe that liberal arts degree isn’t so bad after all.