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Women, Minorities Are More Likely To Lose Jobs To Automation

Associated Press

A robot on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The next wave of job automation has landed in Las Vegas.

A bar staffed by robots, called The Tipsy Robot, will open Friday on the Strip – and the trend is likely here to stay. (Ed. Note: The bar is also staffed by people. The robots are are an entertainment attraction, but robot bartenders could become more common in the future.) 

Of all American cities, Las Vegas is most susceptible to automation due to its high number of service industry job, and a new study from the University of Redlands says that women, minorities, and teenagers hold jobs that are most likely to be automated.

Johannes Moenius is a professor at the University of Redlands who helped conduct the survey. He was quick to point to the reason for that. 

“If you look at the jobs that are most susceptible to automation ... there's a lot more women working in those jobs than men," he said.

Moenius pointed to the grocery store clerk as an example of a job that is slowly being taken over by self-serve kiosks and bank teller positions are almost entirely taken by ATMs.   

It is not just about the job, Moenius said, it is really about how much education a person has.

“People who have no high school degree, no high school diploma, have an almost a 75 percent chance of being automated away,” he said.

Moenius said the higher the degree a person obtains the lower the chances that his or her job will be replaced by automation. In the survey, Asians fared much better at having a job that wasn't going to be replaced by a robot, he said. He credited that to the fact that Asians are more likely to have at least a bachelor degree. 

“The more education you have the higher insurance you have,” he said.

Many people have decried the high cost of a college degree, which is why a technical degree is often suggested as an alternative to a bachelor degree. Moenius agrees that a technical degree has its merits he believes it only goes so far.

“It is definitely true that if you get a technical degree and you continue to get an education on the side then you will get work less and less repetitive type tasks that make you less likely, less susceptible to getting a job automated away," he said. "However, it’s the creative, problem-solving part that allows people to avoid the risk of automation.”

One of the trickiest parts of the equation is young people. The study found that teenagers are also more likely to have their jobs automated away. However, many don't have the job experience to get a highly skilled job. Moenius also said young people who haven't gone to college should look to go to college. His concern is the people who didn't make that choice.

“If you’re dropping out of high school at age 16, you start working, you get some expertise, you become even a schooled artisan in your job, the probability that you won’t have a job 10 years or 20 years down the road is very, very, very high,” he said.


Johannes Moenius, professor, University of Redlands

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.