May 10, 2019
Despite macro trends in automation and digitization, “we are not heading for a jobless future anytime soon,” the OECD says in its 2019 Employment Outlook report.
Only 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation, the OECD predicts, a far smaller number than many researchers and consultants have estimated. Further, the OECD argues that the possibility of automation does not mean it will happen. “Automation may not always be cost-effective or desirable, it may raise legal and ethical concerns, and it will be affected by people’s preferences and policy decisions.”
Significant change ahead regardless: The report predicts that the tasks performed and how they will be carried out will be substantially altered in a third of existing jobs. The solution, according to the OECD, is to focus on lifelong learning and adjusting labor market and social protection systems.
Why it matters: The prospect of fewer jobs has serious implications for policy globally and in the United States. Some policy ideas, such as universal basic income, are buoyed by fears of a jobless future, or at least one in which jobs are far scarcer than they are now. If the OECD is right, that is not the trend.