Los 40 USA
Sign in to commentAPP
spainSPAINchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA


10 Jobs that could be at risk in the future due to AI

Many workers are only now beginning to understand how the growth of AI could threaten their jobs. Here are the ten most vulnerable workers...

Many workers are only now beginning to understand how the growth of AI could threaten their jobs. Here are the ten most vulnerable workers...

Over the next ten years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that around 2.1 million jobs will be lost, with one of the main drivers being the growth of automation and artificial intelligence (AI). However alarming that statistic may be, the BLS also projects the economy to add 10.4 million jobs by 2031. Together this means that the US economy will see around eight million jobs created over the next decade.

When trying to identify the ten jobs more threatened by AI, we must consider if we are talking about the total number of jobs lost or the percent of jobs lost for a certain profession. This is where the distraction between AI and automation, as they relate to job erasure and creation.

What is the difference between automation and AI?

Thousands of workers in the United States have seen their jobs automated over the last two decades. An Oxford study found that since 2000 around 260,000 workers have lost their job to a robot. These job losses are the result of automation, meaning that a machine was built to replicate the role of a worker.

The integration of AI goes a step further by teaching a machine to make decisions like a traditional worker would. For instance, some of the jobs of research assistants who support academics by compiling sources and annotating their content could be done by an AI —the quality of that work is a separate question.

How will each impact job losses and gains?

Automation is likely to hit more workers in total numbers, while AI integrations into a workplace may have harder impacts in smaller niche occupations.

For example, cashiers and bank tellers are expected to be between ten and eleven percent of their workforce over the next ten years, equating to around 370,000 jobs lost. ATMs and self-checkout kiosks are cheaper than hiring a person to do a role that can be automated, and increasingly other sectors are focused on automation which is often couched as necessary to increase efficiency. When we examine the impact AI will have on word processors and typists, its integration could lead to an elimination of 38.2 percent of roles available in 2021. This reduction could impact 17,600 workers, the majority of which do not have a college degree.

The persistent threat of automation

The impact of AI on job security varies depending on the educational requirements of a profession. Based on data from the BLS, it is projected that cashiers will experience a significant decline in job opportunities. Specifically, approximately 335,000 positions, which account for roughly ten percent of current employees in this field, are expected to disappear between 2021 and 2031. However, between 2021 to 2022, there was a two percent reduction in the number of cashiers, meaning that if this pace continued through 2031, the reduction in roles for the occupation could reach closer to twenty percent.

How can AI and automation increase corporate profits? 

Many companies are opting for automatic checkout machines to boost long-term profits. 
When a company begins to examine how it plans to spend its profits, executives have several options, including: 

  • Boosting capital expenditure to increase the number of stores, new machinery, or other physical assets (or means of production) to increase production
  • Increasing hiring or raise wages
  • Purchasing company stock to inflate the price 

Of these options, increasing capital expenditure into technologies that reduce payroll is often an attractive option. According to an MIT study, a retailer like Walmart or Target could set up four self-checkout kiosks for around $125,000, meaning that each comes out to around $31,250. Indeed, the online job recruitment platform estimates that the average cashier at Target makes $27,361 a year. 
So let’s do the math. 

If a retailer like Target replaced four workers making $27,361 ($109,144 for all four) with four kiosks that cost $125,000 the first year, the company would see an increase in capital expenditure of $15,556. However, in the second year, assuming the machines do not need any maintenance, the company would save $109,144 since it can now fire the four workers replaced by the kiosk. When thinking about the impacts on major companies where kiosks could replace hundreds or thousands of workers, it is easy to see how over 300,000 cashier jobs will be lost over the next ten years. 

The emerging threat of artificial intelligence

Many who have interacted in Chat GPT now understand the threat that advanced artificial intelligence systems pose to workers, even those with higher levels of education. The BLS sorted occupations by the level of education required by the role, and workers without a college or advanced degree will be more seriously impacted by automation and AI.

Not only will a greater number of jobs typically held by those without a college degree be impacted by AI and automation, but the jobs that will replace those lost also do not have the same benefits, in terms of pay, as those for workers with a degree. The difference in pay between jobs that are expected to see gains versus losses for workers with a high school diploma is 0.5 percent, while that for workers with a bachelor’s degree is 26 percent. This gap, which has been described by scholars at MIT, is one way that automation and AI can exacerbate the country’s already unequal economic distribution. The research team at MIT reported that since the 1980s, automation has contributed to income inequality because workers with a lower level of education were disproportionately impacted by the job losses that resulted.

Average Salary Jobs LostAverage Salary Jobs GainedDifference
Workers with a high school diploma$44,385.00$44,610.00+0.5%
Workers with a bachelor’s degree$48,914$61,528.33+26%

2. Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

In addition to cashiers, the BLS projections on job growth for hundreds of occupations show major risks for secretaries and administrative assistants. The integration of AI is seen by industry leaders as a force that will further shrink the number of these roles available. Leader.com, an online business outlet, pointed out that while the BLS estimates that the number of posts will fall by twenty percent, those losses come after more than half a million secretarial and administrative roles were eliminated between 2000 and 2021. The majority of these jobs are available to workers without a college degree, meaning that sectors that are expected to grow must be able to accommodate some of those that would have occupied these jobs.

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive2,075,6001,868,000-207,600
Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants508,000405,400-102,600
Legal secretaries and administrative assistants157,800127,500-30,400
Office and administrative support workers, all other176,700164,800-11,900

3. Word processors and typists

As mentioned above, these workers could see their jobs shredded as voice-to-text AI becomes better able to listen, transcribe, synthesize, and summarize conversations and meetings. While the BLS has projected a reduction in the number of these jobs to fall by thirty-eight percent, in just one year, between 2021 and 2022, the number of word processors and typists fell by 8.9 percent. If that pace continued over the next ten years, eighty percent of these jobs would be eliminated.

May 2021May 2022Change (#)Change (%)

4. Customer service representatives

As consumers continue to shift towards e-commerce, advancements in chatbots to provide customer support have reduced the need to staff call centers. By integrating a chatbot into the e-commerce site, companies can reduce the number of representatives needed. Over the last year, over 19,000 jobs have been lost in the sector, and in the coming decade, the BLS estimates 3.6 percent or 105,300 jobs will be cut for the labor market.

May 2021May 2022Change (#)Change (%)

5. Data entry keyers

As AI algorithms become better able to synthesize and process data, the number of people employed as data entry keyers are expected to fall by around 24.7 percent or around 38,500 jobs. Over the last year, however, the economy has added just over 1,400 jobs of this nature.

May 2021May 2022Change (#)Change (%)

Whether or not this trend will continue, or if AI will begin to process and enter data and replace workers. This is yet another example of a job where the majority of the workers do not have a formal education after high school.

6. Telemarketers

The telemarketing industry experienced a significant decline in job opportunities from 2021 to 2022, with a decrease of nearly seventeen percent. This decrease was unexpected as the Bureau of Labor Statistics had predicted a gradual decline in employment, with twenty-one percent of jobs disappearing between 2021 and 2031. Surprisingly, the industry lost almost all of these projected jobs within a single year. Leadque published a short blog on LinkedIn, describing how AI could help telemarking companies conduct market research to make their attempts at contacting possible consumers more successful.

May 2021May 2022Change (#)Change (%)

7. Editors

The last few jobs we will look at impact workers with a college degree. AI is showing that many jobs, once assumed safe, could be replaced by an AI, and those workers will need to be absorbed elsewhere. One of those groups is editors. The occupation is expected to lose 5.5 percent of its jobs by 2031. Under that situation, around 5,100 jobs would be lost; however, after just one year, all of those jobs and more have been lost.

May 2021May 2022Change (#)Change (%)

8. Computer programmers

Over the past year, the field of computer programming has experienced a significant decline in job opportunities.

May 2021May 2022Change (#)Change (%)

According to the BLS, the number of available jobs for computer programmers was projected to reach 156,000 by 2031. However, from 2021 to 2022, the actual number of positions dropped below this estimate in just one year. This is due to the fact that computer programmers are more susceptible to being replaced by AI, which has already demonstrated the ability to run basic programs for debugging and optimizing websites and software. Furthermore, the Da Vinci Studio, a group of programmers, argued that AI could be programmed to write code, and many specialists believe that the resulting code will contain fewer errors and be able to process data more efficiently than code written by human programmers.

9. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

Another group of workers, many of which may have a college degree, that is expected to see the number of jobs decline are bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks. Robotizados Cristian Gonzalez, the mind behind the AI-focused news site Robotizados, warned that there is a ninety-eight percent chance that the sector is doomed by AI. Already from 2021 to 2022, over 157,000 jobs were lost in this sector, with the BLS estimating that over the next ten years, seventy-seven percent of the roles could be eliminated.

May 2021May 2022Change (#)Change (%)

This occupation is particularly vulnerable to AI because of hopes that AI would be able to automate data inputs for “bookkeeping software, spreadsheets, and databases” and produce reports. A number of workers would be needed to verify that the information produced is accurate.

10. News analysts, reporters, and journalists

The final profession we examined is one that I am familiar with. When Chat GPT was introduced, it became immediately apparent how disruptive the technology could be for news sites that rely on advertisements rather than subscriptions. When a user queries Chat GPT, the AI sources information from other websites. But, if users are not directed to those sites for further reading, viewership may decrease, leading to a decline in revenue from ads. This could pose a threat to the financial viability of smaller outlets. If they were to close, Chat GPT would have fewer journalists and writers to draw content and information from. Ultimately, Chat GPT reduces its own inputs by providing users with information but not allowing those who provided the information to benefit from it.

May 2021May 2022Change (#)Change (%)

In 2031, the BLS estimates that there will be just over 43,000 news analysts, reporters, and journalists, a decline of over eight percent from the level recorded in 2021. These numbers could dive even deeper, given that employment in this sector dropped more than five percent last year alone.