The labour market is changing. Whilst automation is a significant driver, it affects industries in different ways, and is not the only factor at play.
What does the chart show?
The BLS Occupational Projections data provides a comprehensive look at how the labour market is likely to evolve over the next decade. It covers a wide range of occupations and industries and includes projections for employment, job openings, and replacement needs. The chart displayed data we have extracted on the employment change predictions of selected occupations. We’ve displayed the percentage increase or decrease compared to the 2021 level of employment.
Why is the chart interesting?
As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, many jobs previously performed by humans are becoming increasingly automated. With the rise of chatbots like ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence tools, it’s clear that automation is changing the way we work. We take a closer look at which industries and occupations are most at risk from automation, and which ones are likely to experience growth in the coming years, highlighting some key insights from the latest employment projections data provided by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the BLS data, some of the occupations at the highest risk of automation include data entry clerks, telemarketers, and watch repairers. These jobs are particularly vulnerable to automation because they involve repetitive tasks that can be easily automated using current technologies.
Watch repairers have been significantly impacted by automation, and are expected to experience a 25% fall in employment, as advancements in technology have made it easier and more cost-effective to replace watches rather than repair them. The use of automated machines for watchmaking and repair has also increased, with machines now capable of performing many of the tasks that were previously done by hand. For example, machines can now clean and oil watch parts, assemble watches, and even test their accuracy.
Telemarketers have also been impacted by automation, particularly with the increasing use of robocalls and chatbots for telemarketing purposes. Robocalls are automated calls that deliver pre-recorded messages to a large number of people at once, while chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate conversation with human users. Robocalls and chatbots are increasingly being used by telemarketing companies, as they can be more cost-effective than hiring human telemarketers. They can also make more calls in a shorter period, leading to higher productivity. Between 2021 and 2031, they are projected to experience a 19% fall in employment.
Data entry clerks have also been significantly impacted by automation, as the development of software and artificial intelligence (AI) has enabled the automation of many data entry tasks. For instance, optical character recognition (OCR) software can scan physical documents and automatically input the data into digital databases, reducing the need for manual data entry. Additionally, machine learning algorithms can be trained to recognize patterns and automatically categorize data, further reducing the need for human data entry clerks. The chart shows that we are expecting to have 25% fewer data entry clerks in 2031 than we currently have.
It’s worth noting that automation is not necessarily a bad thing for workers or the economy as a whole. As alluded to, automation can increase productivity, lower costs, and create new job opportunities in industries that are more heavily automated. However, the challenge is to ensure that the benefits of automation are shared broadly and that workers in vulnerable occupations have access to new opportunities and support.
In addition to examining the occupations at the highest risk of automation, it’s also important to look at which jobs are likely to experience growth or decline in the coming years. According to the BLS data, some of the occupations with the highest projected growth include healthcare occupations, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, as well as computer and mathematical occupations, such as software developers and information security analysts.
Healthcare occupations are expected to grow due to several factors, including an ageing population that requires more medical care, leading to increased demand for healthcare services, and employment in the sector increasing by almost 50%. Advancements in medical technology and treatment options will also require more healthcare professionals to manage and provide care. However, automation may impact employment in the sector, as routine tasks like data entry, documentation, and scheduling may be automated, leading to a decrease in demand for some administrative jobs.
Computer/mathematics-based occupations have experienced a huge demand in recent years, and this is likely to continue, highlighted in our chart by an increase in information security analysts of 35% by 2031. As businesses and industries continue to rely more on technology for their operations, there will be an increased demand for professionals who can develop and manage this technology. With the growing importance of data in business decision-making, there will be a need for professionals who can analyse and interpret data. The ongoing digital transformation of various industries, such as finance, healthcare, and education, will require professionals who can navigate and leverage technology to achieve business objectives. As automation and artificial intelligence continue to advance, there will be a need for professionals who can design, program, and maintain these systems. While automation is expected to create new jobs in these fields, it could also replace some tasks currently performed by humans, leading to a decrease in demand for certain jobs or skills. However, the overall impact of automation on these fields is difficult to predict and will depend on many factors, including the pace of technological development, the rate of adoption of new technologies by employers, and the ability of workers to adapt to changing skill requirements.
The implications of automation on the labour market are complex and multifaceted. On the one hand, automation has the potential to increase productivity and create new jobs in industries that are more heavily automated. On the other hand, it may also displace workers in certain occupations and industries, and exacerbate existing inequalities in the labour market. To address these challenges, policymakers may need to consider a range of responses, such as investing in education and training programs to help workers transition to new careers, or implementing new labour market policies to promote job creation and support workers in vulnerable occupations.