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Automation will do half the jobs in less than eight years

Automation, even more than trade, will continue to shrink the number of manufacturing jobs. - Senator Ben Sasse

In a new report released by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum, automation is quickly becoming the new labor force. By 2020, the next presidential election, 42 percent of all labor will be produced by some type of machine. That only increases to 52 percent by 2023.

Compare that to a year ago, and that is an increase of 29 percent over the past 12 months. This ever-increasing speed by AI will disrupt the global economy. The chart below shows how automation has changed work-force participation between 2013-17.

According to Michael Chui of the McKinsey Global Institute, leaders continue to not prepare for this massive shift. “Mass redeployment in labor forces around the world, including reskilling/retraining (rather than mass unemployment), is one of the societal grand challenges in the next several decades.”

Currently, an estimated 75 million workers could lose their jobs to automation by 2022. Granted new jobs may come available as well. Companies could create up to 133 million jobs during that same time frame. However, there is one key to those new opportunities, training. The new pipeline of careers would take a huge move toward new training programs from colleges, employers, and technical schools.

In the report, that average worker would need to train for 101 days.

“If such skills are compounded out, the economy could have a slew of new emerging occupations. But they won’t emerge if we don’t give people the right skills,” said lead author and head of the forum’s Center for New Economy and Society, Saadia Zahidi.

The other downside, two-thirds of the companies looked at said they would provide retraining only for high-skilled labor. That would leave the remaining workers on their own.

Next time you hear a politician say they are for the working man, you better make sure they follow that up with how they are planning to deal with automation. Right now the focus seems to be on trade and tariffs. That needs to change. As Senator Ben Sasse recently tweeted, “automation, even more than trade, will continue to shrink the number of manufacturing jobs. This trend is irreversible. We should tell the truth.”

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