New Study on Jobs and Automation

The question keeps coming up in the news: will automation spell the end of human jobs? One reason is that it’s just flat out scary to a lot of people. They look around a factory that used to have 150 human workers and now has 12, and they think they’d better come up with a plan B.

Another reason that the question keeps coming up is that there hasn’t been a really convincing answer yet. Reporting on this issue may be trying to hit a moving target, but there’s always new data. Sometimes that new information contradicts what made sense in the previous study.

So there it is. We have to bring you the information from a new study on the question. We’ll wade into the scary parts carefully. First thing you should know is that 65% of the jobs in Lithuania could probably be taken over by robots. Slovakia is in the same position, while Turkey and Greece aren’t far behind.

The rest of us can relax a little bit. Germany and Japan are looking at a 55% chance of losing their jobs, while France and some other Western European countries are close to 50%. But the U.S. is hanging out at a relatively comfortable 37% with most of Scandinavia. Canada is a little worse off, and Norway and New Zealand are the least threatened by job-seeking robots.

The researchers offer a few reasons for the difference. The most obvious one is that some industries are harder to automate than others. Teachers, doctors, and hospitality workers are less likely to be replaced by robots because automatic check in at a hotel kiosk is not the same as a smiling, lei-bedecked concierge handing over a key and a cocktail. Ditto for a confident surgeon or compassionate professor.

Another possibility is that some countries are better at combining creative human tasks with jobs that are easier to automate. A study earlier this year found that 30% of the average American worker’s tasks could be automated. Each worker, in that case, would be able to trade off the dull routine tasks for more creative and satisfying jobs.

That’s completely different from saying that 30% of American workers can be replaced by robots.

While we wait for it all to shake out, you need to keep your automated helpers running smoothly. If you use Rexroth electric industrial motion control, we can help you with that. As Rexroth specialists, we offer fast, friendly support when you need it most.

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