Report: Indiana Tops List For Potential Jobs Impacted By Automation

Feb 4, 2019

Indiana is the most manufacturing heavy state in the country – but a new report says the top of that list may not be the best place to be.

The Brooking Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program says Indiana has the highest percentage of jobs that could be lost due to automation in the near future.

Kokomo and Elkhart ranked No. 2 and 3 out of more than 300 metropolitan areas in the country. Brooking senior fellow and policy director Mark Muro says in each of them about 38 percent of tasks can be done by current technology.

“That doesn’t mean that it will be replaced, it won’t happen immediately, it may never in some ways,” says Muro. “But there’s a lot of exposure to things that machines can do in especially in the middle-sized and small metropolitan areas across Indiana, and in rural Indiana.”

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar says the findings agree with last year’s Chamber survey, which showed Indiana businesses already having issues finding skilled labor for that industry.

“And what that does, and what they tell us, is that just accelerates the move towards automation,” he says.

The report also highlighted those with only a high school education could be among the most effected. Researchers found that jobs not requiring a college education are 229 percent more vulnerable to being taken over by automation than careers requiring at least a bachelor’s degree.

That could mean manufacturing jobs, but they’re not the only ones that could see robots replace humans. Other industries including retail and fast-food face possible artificial intelligence take-overs.

Muro says those minimum-wage, low-skill jobs are now at risk of disappearing.

“Historically these technologies have impacted especially middle skill workers and sort of hollowed out the wage distribution and shifted a lot of people into lower end service jobs,” says Muro. “Well now, now AI technologies especially are putting on more pressure on those jobs, those lower end service jobs. So I think some of the populations most vulnerable in the economy and in the state are going to be the ones we need to think about most in the next decade.”

The loss of repetitive task-intensive jobs will require more workers to obtain post-high school education to stay competitive in the workforce.

“The high school diploma is not enough anymore and that there has to be skills and knowledge acquired after high school even if it’s not a four-year baccalaureate degree or a masters or anything beyond that, there has to be skills and knowledge acquired post-secondary whether that’s an associate’s degree or a certificate that we’d still hire a quality job. It needs to be things that are stackable so that folks can move from one level to higher levels on the career ladder so to speak,” says Brinegar. “Because as the report predicts, many of the low-skill, low to medium wage jobs are in all likelihood going to be whipped out.”

Muro says Indiana has the chance to take the lead on developing a skilled workforce needed to run some of the new technology, but will have to make sure to continually educate workers as automation transforms in each industry.