What to Know
- The U.S. labor market saw 8.6 occupational shifts with most people departing food services, in-person sales and office support positions, according to McKinsey Global Institute.
- The findings state health, STEM, transportation, warehousing, business and legal professionals are projected to be growing under AI, while office support, customer service, sales, production work and food services are the worst impacted by AI acceleration.
- About a fifth of U.S. workers are considered to have “high exposure” to AI, based on Pew Research Center data.
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the U.S. labor market with advanced language capabilities and automation to enhance work options, but a couple of recent studies have found certain trends in the workplace that could shape the future of work in America.
During the COVID pandemic, from 2019 to 2022, the labor market saw 8.6 occupational shifts with most people leaving food services, in-person sales and office support for other occupations, according to a new report by McKinsey Global Institute.
The study suggests that positions that declined and flourished during the pandemic will keep that trend moving forward. The data expects an additional 12 million occupational shifts may be possible in the next seven years.
Health, STEM, transportation, warehousing, business and legal professionals are projected to be growing under AI, while office support, customer service, sales, production work and food services are the worst impacted by AI acceleration, based on the research.
Jobs remaining strong with a slower growth trajectory are creatives, art management, property maintenance, education, builders, community service, agriculture and mechanics.
“It’s definitely a very powerful tool. Not sure how it’s going to affect the future, but definitely something to keep in mind,” Martha Yin, an investment banker in New York City, said to NBC New York.
The survey found that workers are willing to pivot career paths, while tighter labor markets encourage companies to hire broadly. Position shifts in food and customer services accounted for 2.5 million changes in occupation.
Fast food counter workers, cooks, waitstaff, retail sales, cashiers and hairstylists are just a few of the most common jobs that people decided to leave to pursue something else.
“No, I don’t think AI is going to be that intense. Before it [AI] takes over police officers, I think that’s going to take a lot more time because I think that’s a little too crazy,” said Jonathon Cruz, a New Jersey state trooper.
AI tools can identify data patterns, write code, design and strategize with or without human help. With this technology, about 30% of hours currently worked could be automated by 2030, based on the data.
The research stated workers earning less than $40,000 per year are up to 14 times more likely to change occupations by the end of the decade than higher-paid earners.
While the McKinsey Global Institute projects certain occupational shifts due to AI, another recent analysis shows U.S. workers are hopeful concerning the AI impacts.
About a fifth of U.S. workers are considered to have “high exposure” to AI, particularly workers who identify as women, Asian, college-educated and high-paid workers, according to the Pew Research Center.
The top industries with the most exposure to AI are science, technology, finance, insurance, real estate and public administration. The industries with the least exposure are managerial, administrative and food services, based on Pew Research.
The Pew survey showed that workers more likely to see AI exposure do not necessarily feel their jobs are at risk. About one-in-four workers in professional, scientific and technical services believe AI will help more than hurt them, with about 20% of workers in government, public administration and military polling the same.
Yin and fellow investment banker, Niko Molina, both shared with NBC New York that they do not feel threatened by AI in their employment, especially as banking relies on building client relationships.
In contrast, four-in-ten workers in hospitality, services and arts are not sure about the influence of AI on their jobs.
“I think it [AI] can change the future, but it could also have a negative impact on the public,” William Lee, a sneaker business owner, told News 4.