- A new report from Oxford Economics predicts the U.S. could lose over 1.5 million jobs to robotics and automation by 2030. Globally, China stands to be hit the hardest, losing almost 12.5 million jobs over that same period.
- According to the report, manufacturing, logistics, maritime shipping and port operations will be hit hardest over the next decade as increasingly specialized robots and driverless vehicles become more efficient than their human counterparts.
- Higher income demographics will be less impacted by the shift as the creation of higher-skilled jobs will help compensate for those lost to automation. Lower income demographics will be hit the hardest, however, permanently losing almost twice as many human-held jobs.,
Two factors are driving the explosive growth in robotic adoption. Robots are getting faster, smarter and more specialized, and their costs are plummeting.
"In China, for example, unit labor costs in manufacturing have increased by more than 65 percent since 2008. Wage rates have also been rising consistently in Korea, Japan, the U.S. and Germany," according to the report.
For this reason, China and other Southeast Asian nations that depend on low-wage manufacturing business won't be immune from the impact of automation. Their robust manufacturing sectors and cheap labor give them a competitive advantage and make them among the most vulnerable to losing greater numbers of jobs.
In the U.S., the most vulnerable states are those that rely on manufacturing for a significant portion of their job markets. Oxford Economics predicts Oregon and Louisiana will be the hardest hit, followed by Texas, Indiana and North Carolina. States with a greater reliance on business services and tourism like Hawaii and Florida, along with the District of Columbia, are least vulnerable.
In addition to manufacturing writ large, the report also focuses on automation's implications for the trucking, maritime shipping and port operations sectors.
While driverless trucks have yet to cause significant job losses in the U.S., a growing number of trials are underway. Oxford Economics predicts this will start forcing millions of drivers out from behind the wheel within the next five years as the industry continues to struggle with a shortage of human operators.
In the maritime sector, automation has been steadily increasing as well. Carriers and ports are experimenting with small-scale autonomous shipping trials to explore the feasibility of reducing crew sizes, or removing the need for human crews altogether. Some ports are in conflict with workers' labor unions to introduce robots to the yards. According to Moody's, labor can account for 50 percent of port operations costs, with "automated terminals have[ing] 40 percent to 70 percent lower labor requirements than conventional terminals."
The report's analysis of 35,000 workers found workers who lose their jobs to automation are most likely to go into transportation, construction and office administration, three industries the report believes automation will target next.