Jobs At Risk of Offshoring

Drawing on new and existing research focused on job movement and potential displacement in the U.S., the researchers indicated as many as 25 percent of American jobs could be offshored in the years ahead, at risk of replacement by foreign competition. And half of all low-skill jobs could eventually be automated, potentially displacing millions of U.S. work

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“We do not wish to be alarmist. Both trade and automation related economic growth are hallmarks of a vibrant economy,” they said. “The findings of direct and indirect impacts of displacement are not homogeneous across populations. The negative long-term impacts of displacement have been found to be worse for low-skilled, less-educated workers, who are likely to work in more vulnerable jobs.”

The study goes on to profile specific communities that have essentially become trapped in an economically treacherous cycle, noting that a disproportionate percentage of business expansion and job growth in recent years has been enjoyed by only a small number of metropolitan areas. Since the recession that ended in 2009, researchers estimate “half the net establishment growth [or business formation] in the United States … occurred in just 0.64 percent of the more than 3,100 U.S. counties.”

 This has allowed some regions of the country to diversify their local workforces and limit exposure to automation and offshoring. But it has also generated a sort of “clustering” in which communities see wealth diminish as opportunities dry up. Those with the means and skillsets to find jobs elsewhere are more likely to move away, taking their skills and education with them. The low-skill opportunities left over in the wake of this population flight – like manufacturing and industrial positions – are often among the most at-risk of automation or displacement

T]here is a great degree of regional variation in the risk of job losses due to offshoring and automation. There are clear clusters of high risk in the industrialized Midwest and in several urban places across the country,” the report says. “Industrial structure, educational attainment and the degree of rurality all affect the potential employment risk of increased automation and trade-related job losses.”

The Aleutians East Borough of Alaska was found to be the single highest-risk area for both offshorability and automation. But rural counties in Mississippi, Georgia, Indiana, Virginia and the Carolinas were all found to be particularly vulnerable to job displacement