Of those who acknowledged they were afraid of possible downsizing in their market, the publishing industry had the highest level of concern, with 50 percent of respondents telling us they were fearful of layoffs. While major layoffs in the publishing sector have already occurred, the continued trend toward digital publishing is a disruptive force that may have yet to fully run its course. Those in the retail industry (almost 49 percent) and construction (43 percent) also expressed fear of possible layoffs, perhaps because of disruptive innovations currently being developed and tested such as clerk-less stores and 3D printers capable of creating homes and commercial buildings.
The least concerned respondents worked in real estate, where less than 22 percent were concerned about layoffs. While real estate may seem like an industry that requires a human touch, certain research suggests artificial intelligence will reduce the number of them and could eventually even replace traditional real estate agents and brokers.
Already, artificial intelligence can automate house hunting processes. Consumers enter specific parameters into a computer (like location, budget and preferences) and receive hundreds of recommended listings that match their request — largely for free and without having to set up a meeting and time to view!
Respondents who felt layoffs would most impact them were temporary employees (60 percent). Fifty-six percent of consultants and 53 percent of junior managers also admitted concerns about layoffs. Upper management, trained professionals and administrative staff were the least concerned. Despite their cavalier attitude to being replaced, the 2016 Economic Report of the President to Congress offers a more dire assessment — those in the $40/hour wage range face a 31% chance of job loss due to automation.