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High Overlap Between Jobs Vulnerable to COVID-19 Downturn and Automation

McKinsey estimates that there are 57 million US jobs that are vulnerable to the COVID-19 downturn, and 59 million are at risk in the European Union, UK and Switzerland combined. Out of these jobs, it believes that there is a significant overlap between the workers who are vulnerable in the current downturn and those who hold jobs susceptible to automation in the future. Although this overlap is not quantified, the report highlights that the pandemic is accelerating structural shifts in the economy that were already underway, such as using digital channels to reach consumers, automating operations, and allowing people to work remotely from home. Therefore, preparing for the “future of work” has gone from a distant theme to a very present priority. The report illustrates areas where automation may become more prominent by tracking online job postings which provide hiring trends. Data from Emsi, which consolidates data from more than 100,000 websites show that job postings have declined by roughly one million since February 2020—a drop of 16%. On the one hand, the biggest percentage decline came in postings for oil and gas operators (a drop of 56%), followed by food-machine operators, bakers, bellhops, auto-insurance appraisers, and parking-lot attendants (all of which declined by roughly 40%). On the other hand, demand is spiking for some roles. Translators saw the greatest increase as hospitals added interpreters to treat non-English-speaking COVID-19 patients. Other occupations experiencing a surge in hiring include respiratory therapists, general practitioners, psychiatrists, and epidemiologists.

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