Here Are the Jobs Most Likely to Be Replaced by Robots, and Those That Are Safe

A new study looks at which occupations and which regions could be most impacted.

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By Nina Zipkin • Oct 12, 2017

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The question of the role of robotics and automation in our everyday lives is one that looms large over conversations about what the workplaces and economies of the future will look like. As technology has become embedded into our lives, it’s not so much a question of if it will affect the kinds of jobs people hold, but when, where and how.

A group of researchers from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., conducted a study to better understand which U.S. industries and regions are most susceptible to change driven by automation. They also explored why the subject is such a fraught, hot-button policy issue.

Related: Bill Gates Believes Robots That Steal Jobs Should Pay Taxes

“Since 2000, manufacturing production in the U.S. has risen more than 10 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, while manufacturing employment has declined by almost 5.5 million jobs,” the researchers noted. “Though automation and trade alone do not account for many of the changes that occurred across regions of the United States, the fortunes of manufacturing have special resonance for several reasons. First, manufacturing tends to be highly geographically concentrated, with job losses focused by location and industry. Second, manufacturing jobs have been a source of middle-class wages throughout the middle part of the 20th Century.”

The study looked at the top 25 areas that would be most affected by automation. They were highly concentrated in very specific parts of the country -- two counties in Alaska, five in Georgia, three in Virginia, two in Mississippi, two in South Carolina, one in North Carolina, four in Alabama, four in Indiana and one in Kentucky.

The researchers also did a breakdown of which jobs and which regions are most likely to be affected by automation.

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Not safe: Data entry keyers

Number of employees: 2,168,000

Annual income: $29,460

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Not safe: Mathematical science occupations, all other

Number of employees: 18,000
Annual income: $66,210
Paul Bradbury | Getty Images

Not safe: Telemarketers

Number of employees: 2,379,000
Annual income: $23,530
PhotoAlto/Eric Audras | Getty Images

Not safe: Insurance underwriters

Number of employees: 1,034,000
Annual income: $65,040
Westend61 | Getty Images

Not safe: Mathematical technicians

Number of employees: 12,000
Annual income: $46,600
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Not safe: Sewers, hand

Number of employees: 12,000
Annual income: $23,640
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Not safe: Tax preparers

Number of employees: 904,000
Annual income: $36,450
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Not safe: Photographic process workers and processing machine operator

Number of employees: 288,000
Annual income: $26,590

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Not safe: Library technicians

Number of employees: 1,018,000
Annual income: $32,310
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Not safe: Watch repairers

Number of employees: 27,000
Annual income: $34,750
Getty

Safe: Recreational therapists

Number of employees: 186,000
Annual income: $45,890

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Safe: Emergency management directors

Number of employees: 105,000
Annual income: $67,330

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Safe: First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers

Number of employees: 4,471,000
Annual income: $63,010

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Safe: Mental health and substance abuse social workers

Number of employees: 1,178,000
Annual income: $42,170

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Safe: Audiologists

Number of employees: 132,000
Annual income: $74,890

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Safe: Occupational therapists

Number of employees: 1,146,000
Annual income: $80,150

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Safe: Healthcare social workers

Number of employees: 1,601,000
Annual income: $52,380

Westend61 | Getty Images

Safe: Orthotrists and prosthetists

Number of employees: 83,000
Annual income: $64,430

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Safe: Health technologists and technicians, all other

Number of employees: 1,022,000
Annual income: $41,260

Hoxton/Tom Merton | Getty Images

Safe: Hearing aid specialists

Number of employees: 59,000
Annual income: $49,600

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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