Close to 50% of Americans believe that automation could easily replace their jobs, according to a survey conducted by the American Staffing Association. The survey, which was carried out by the Harris Poll on behalf of the association, revealed that younger workers, as well as Black and Hispanic individuals, feel the most vulnerable to job displacement. In contrast, Baby Boomers and White Americans are less concerned about the impact of automation on their employment prospects.
The rapid development of generative artificial intelligence (AI) has expanded the potential for automation in various job tasks. The survey found that approximately one-third of Americans are already using AI in their workplaces. These findings sharply contrast with a similar poll conducted in 2017 for a temporary staffing trade group, where almost 75% of employed Americans did not believe that their jobs could be easily replaced by robots or AI.
Richard Wahlquist, the CEO of the American Staffing Association, noted the significant change in worker attitudes towards AI over the past few years. Previously, workers viewed AI programs as tools that could assist human workers. However, the current survey indicates that workers now fear that AI could replace them entirely.
The survey also revealed that about 75% of respondents expect the increased use of automation and AI to result in higher unemployment rates. Women were more likely than men to hold this belief. Industrial workers expressed the highest level of concern about job replacement by automation, while healthcare employees felt the least exposed. Additionally, a majority of Black and Hispanic workers perceived their jobs to be at risk, compared to less than two in five White workers.
Despite these concerns, the majority of Americans believe that the increased use of technology will generally benefit workers. However, opinions were divided on whether it would ultimately help or harm their careers.