Researchers Say Workers Who Lost Their Job During Pandemic May Be Replaced During Recovery

F.J. Thomas

Atlanta, GA ( – Workers who were laid off during the pandemic may be more likely to be replaced by automation during the recovery period according to a new fiscal report from Georgia State University.

In report titled, “Future of Industry and Employment: COVID-19 Effects Exacerbate the March of Artificial Intelligence”, researchers analyzed the potential impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on various industries. That information was then cross referenced with industries that have high potential for large-scale automation via artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced computer technologies (ACT) ultimately resulting in job replacement.

According to Peter Bluestone, one of the authors of the report, 50 percent of jobs in Georgia are at risk of being lost due to ACT. In another report by co-researchers Emmanuel Chike and Sally Wallace, 49 percent of jobs in the state have a 70 percent or higher chance of becoming automated. With the effects of the pandemic, those percentages could be higher and potentially speed up the process, especially with businesses seeking out innovative ways to use technology to accommodate the need for social distancing while some employees are working from home.

The researchers found that around 75 percent of those industries at risk due to the pandemic also match the industries that are at high risk of job loss due to AI. The industries that match both sets of criteria include:

  • Accommodation, Food Service
  • Entertainment, Art, Recreation
  • Wholesale and Retail Trade
  • Construction
  • Other Services

Accommodation and food service have the highest potential for job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and automation, according to researchers. Interestingly enough, the percentage of job loss in that industry is about the same for each catalyst, as 74 percent of workers are at risk of losing their jobs due to the pandemic, and 73 percent are at risk due to automation. Wholesale trade is another industry where the percentages are the same per reason with 44 percent of workers, primarily in sales, in danger of losing their jobs due to the pandemic or automation.

Half of those in entertainment, arts and recreation are in danger of losing their jobs due to the pandemic. Most of those jobs include personal care and service occupations. According to the researchers’ data around 41 percent of those jobs are in danger of being lost due to automation.

In the construction industry, 36 percent of workers were in danger of being laid off due to COVID-19, and 47 percent were in danger of job loss due to automation. Transportation had a relatively low risk of layoff due to the pandemic at 19 percent but the risk for automation was much higher at 57 percent. Manufacturing was in the same boat at around 21 percent job loss due to the pandemic, but 60 percent job loss due to the automation. Mining and agriculture were also industries that appear will be relatively unscathed by the pandemic but are risk of job loss due to AI. Mining has the potential of a 6 percent job loss due to COVID-19 but a 51 percent risk of job loss due to automation. Similarly, agriculture scored in at 5 percent risk for job loss during the pandemic, but has the potential of 58 percent job loss due to the use of automated technology.

While some of these totals fall in line with a recent report of national jobs at risk from SmartAsset, there are definitely some differences between the data. For instance, both reports suggest that entertainment and recreation, food services and accommodation are industries with the highest percentages of potential job loss due to COVID-19. However, the SmartAsset report indicated mining as a high-risk industry for pandemic job loss while this report suggests a much lower potential for unemployment caused by the pandemic.

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