Alarming report about U.S. jobs being outsourced

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A shocking report stating that one in four American jobs could either be sent overseas or be lost to automation was released on Tuesday from researchers at Muncie, Indiana’s Ball State University.

A paper titled, “How Vulnerable Are American Communities to Automation, Trade and Urbanization?,” predicts the devastating consequences outsourcing and automating are likely to have on the American workforce.

Researchers looked at current data regarding job movement and potential displacement in the U.S. and concluded that “as many as 25 percent of American jobs could be offshored in the years ahead, at risk of replacement by foreign competition. And half of all low-skill jobs could eventually be automated.” This has the potential of affecting millions of Americans.

“We do not wish to be alarmist,” they said, noting that trade and automation-related economic growth are indicative of a vibrant economy. “The findings of direct and indirect impacts of displacement are not homogeneous across populations. The negative long-term impacts of displacement have been found to be worse for low-skilled, less-educated workers, who are likely to work in more vulnerable jobs.”

In other words, Americans who want their children to thrive in the future should concentrate on making sure they are educated and well-equipped with the skills companies are likely to need, such as computer engineering and corporate management.

Specific communities throughout the country have been identified as having become trapped in a cycle where the few cities currently thriving are disproportionate to the percentage of metropolitan areas that still haven’t been able to dig themselves out of the recession, which formally ended in 2009. The data estimates that “half the net establishment growth [or business formation] in the United States … occurred in just 0.64 percent of the more than 3,100 U.S. counties.”

They’re saying that while some regions of the country have been adept at diversifying their local workforces, there are clusters of communities without opportunity as those with the means and skill sets to find jobs move elsewhere, leaving the low-level workers to fend for themselves.

They identified manufacturing and industrial positions as being among the most at-risk of automation or displacement.

“[T]here is a great degree of regional variation in the risk of job losses due to offshoring and automation. There are clear clusters of high risk in the industrialized Midwest and in several urban places across the country,” the report says. “Industrial structure, educational attainment and the degree of rurality all affect the potential employment risk of increased automation and trade-related job losses.”

Communities Most At-Risk to Offshoring:

  1. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska
  2. Pontotoc County, Mississippi
  3. Tippah County, Mississippi
  4. Roseau County, Minnesota
  5. LaGrange County, Indiana
  6. Los Alamos County, New Mexico
  7. Clinton County, Indiana
  8. DeKalb County, Tennessee
  9. Chickasaw County, Mississippi
  10. Kosciusko County, Indiana

Communities Most At-Risk to Automation:

  1. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska
  2. Quitman County, Georgia
  3. Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska
  4. Buena Vista City, Virginia
  5. Chickasaw County, Mississippi
  6. Allendale County, South Carolina
  7. Tyrrell County, North Carolina
  8. Coosa County, Alabama
  9. LaGrange County, Indiana
  10. Murray County, Georgia

“These rankings will no doubt offer pause to many communities. Indeed, the authors work in a state that can claim four of the top 25 counties in the automation category, and seven of the top 25 counties in the offshorable category,” the study says. “What this analysis does provide are maps of vulnerable places where people live and work. It is these places where job disruptions are most likely.”

The authors took a political stance, noting, “[W]ith broad job losses, red districts get redder, and blue districts get bluer,” adding that this should be obvious to “any observer of the 2016 presidential primaries.”

The study does note that some well-educated Americans with higher-paying jobs will have reason to be concerned about the future of their jobs.

Those most at-risk for offshoring:

  • computer programmers
  • actuaries
  • statisticians
  • film and video editors

Those most at-risk for automation:

  • telemarketers
  • insurance underwriters
  • mathematical technicians
  • library technicians

Here’s a list of some of the “safest” jobs

  • Recreational therapists
  • mental health and substance abuse social workers
  • audiologists
  • first-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers

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