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The Jobless Future

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Above: The United States, circa 2040

Who is ready for our jobless future?

Thirty-eight percent of jobs in the U.S. are at high risk of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence over the next 15 years, according to a new report by PwC.

Meanwhile, only 30% of jobs in the U.K. are similarly endangered. The same level of risk applies to only 21% of positions in Japan.

The U.S. and U.K. labor markets are both dominated by services jobs, and roughly the same share of workers are employed in key sectors including finance, transportation, education, manufacturing and food services.

But PwC found major differences in the nature of the work done within these sectors that explains why more U.S. jobs are at risk.

Take financial services as an example. In the U.S., 61% of jobs in the sector are at a high risk of being replaced by robots. The same is true for only 32% of finance jobs in the U.K.

John Hawksworth, PwC’s chief economist in the U.K., said that many workers in the U.S. financial sector are focused on domestic retail operations — think bank tellers in small towns.

The U.K.’s finance sector, meanwhile, is much more focused on international finance and investment banking — functions that require significantly higher levels of education and expertise.

Workers at risk in the U.S. “would be doing more routine tasks that are easier to automate than that of, say, an investment banker in London,” Hawksworth said.

If you are a working-class person, you are basically screwed. This is going to cause massive social, economic, and political upheaval. And no one is prepared for it. Certainly not the government. This is, along with climate change, the biggest problem of our time. And we aren’t even talking about solutions in anything close to a serious manner. To throw out one, it’s time to make the original Humphrey-Hawkins Act bill part of the progressive agenda, with the government serving as an employer of last resort. Carter screwed us out of this in 1978. Let’s bring it back.

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