Jobless rate could explode if automation is not properly implemented
By Frederick H. Lowe
Black men and women consistently suffer the highest unemployment rates compared to other racial and ethnic groups, and it’s about to get worse.
Joblessness among blacks is expected go even higher because 30 jobs we work in are at high risk of automation, according to a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington D. C.-based think tank for black elected officials.
“Twenty-seven percent of African-American workers are concentrated in 30 occupations at high risk of automation. By comparison, these 30 occupations account for 24 percent of all white workers and 20 percent of all Asian-American workers,” according to the report “Race and Jobs at High Risk of Automation.”
African Americans are one-and-a-half times more likely to be cashiers, cooks, combined food preparation and serving workers, fast food workers, production workers, laborers, freight/stock material movers, security guards, bus drivers, taxi drivers and chauffeurs.
For example, there 3.3 million cashiers and 580,000 are blacks or 3.22 percent of he African American workforce compared to 1.92 percent of the white workforce and 2.54 percent of the Asian workforce.
There are 500,000 taxi drivers and chauffeurs and 143,000 are African American or 80 percent of the black workforce compared to 21 percent of the white workforce and 87 percent of the Asian workforce.
“While automation will create new types of jobs, the African-American community faces a unique combination of well-documented challenges that make it particularly vulnerable in labor-market transitions,” the report said. “These challenges include: an average household net worth that is one tenth of whites, making periods without income particularly difficult.”
The study also noted that automation could increase the African American unemployment rate from 7.5 percent to more than 20 percent.
On the other hand, economic disruption, if properly harnessed, can create new opportunities that address long-standing social inequities, the study reported.
The U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics reported that November’s unemployment rate for black men and women was 7.3 percent compared to whites at 3.6 percent, Hispanics at 4.7 percent and Asians at 3.0 percent.