Op-Ed: Automation Threatens the Future of Black Workers in America
Written by: Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
“Black America’s collective response to emerging technology will determine whether it is an opportunity — or an existential threat.”
— George H. Lambert Jr. President and CEO, Greater Washington Urban League
A new report about the future of work in the United States casts a somber outlook about the effects of artificial intelligence on African-American employment — particularly for African-American men.
According to a recent headline: Artificial intelligence is slated to disrupt 4.5 million jobs for African Americans, who have a 10% greater likelihood of automation-based job loss than other workers.
The report, titled “The Future of Work in Black America,” was produced by the management consulting company McKinsey & Company.
African-American men are overrepresented in the jobs most likely to be lost, such as food services, retail, office support and factory work.
Many fast-food restaurants, for example, have implemented self-serve kiosks, reducing the need for workers at the counter. McDonald’s has even acquired an artificial intelligence company focused on speech recognition that could displace workers on the drive-through lines.
African-American men also are underrepresented in the jobs least likely to be lost to artificial intelligence. These include educators, health professionals, legal professionals and agricultural workers.
According to the report, “Only half of the top 10 occupations that African Americans typically hold pay above the federal poverty guidelines for a family of four ($25,750), and all 10 of those occupations fall below the median salary for a U.S. worker ($52,000). Many of these occupations are among the top 15 occupations most at risk of automation-based displacement and are also projected to affect young African-American workers without a college degree.”
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