When it comes to people losing their jobs to artificial intelligence (AI), women are significantly more likely to be replaced in the workplace.
A new study from the McKinsey Global Institute finds that women are 1.5 times more likely to be forced to move to another company or lose their job to AI and automation in the workplace than men.
The startling statistics are part of a larger look at labor-market trends through the end of 2030. Among the other findings, as many as 12 million people will need to change jobs in that time period, most of whom are currently in lower paying professions.
“As people leave shrinking occupations, the economy could reweight toward higher-wage jobs,” the report reads. “Workers in lower-wage jobs are up to 14 times more likely to need to change occupations than those in highest-wage positions, and most will need additional skills to do so successfully.”
Women, it noted, are “heavily represented” in office support and customer service positions, which could shrink by about 3.7 million and 2.0 million jobs, respectively, by 2030. Also, in line to be more broadly impacted are people of color and those with less education, particularly within customer service, food services and production-focused jobs.
Office support staff, it notes, will see an 18% overall drop in labor demand by 2030. Customer service and sales positions will see a 13% drop. Production work and food services will see declines as well (The healthcare profession will see the biggest gains, with a predicted 30% increase in labor demand).
When it comes to the global workplace in general, there aren’t many jobs that won’t be impacted by AI in the next seven years, says McKinsey. In fact, broadly speaking, 30% of the hours worked today could be automated by adding generative AI to the picture.
That impacts white collar workers as well. Lawyers, teachers and STEM professionals will see the biggest accelerations in automation adoption the report finds, with increases of 14-16%. Agriculture will see the fewest changes, with just a 3% acceleration.
Overall, McKinsey expects 3.5 million jobs to be eradicated by 2030, not just due to AI, but also because of environmental efforts, which are likely to impact both the oil and gas production and auto manufacturing industries.
The good news, though, is those losses will not only be offset by investments in renewable energy, but we’ll also see a net increase of roughly 700,000 positions.
Nothing is set in stone, though. AI’s impact on the workforce will be entirely dependent on the technology’s maturity. Right now, despite the hype, AI has a lot of flaws like its tendency to have “hallucinations” that can result in everything from gaslighting to insults. That means that even jobs that incorporate it now will largely use it alongside humans.
The quicker the advancements come, the more work it’s likely to take over.
“The timeline for automation adoption could be sharply accelerated,” says McKinsey. “Without generative AI, our research estimated, automation could take over tasks accounting for 21.5% of the hours worked in the US economy by 2030. With it, that share has now jumped to 29.5%.”
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