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One in Five Companies Have Replaced Workers with Technology, According to New Research from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl

  • Majority of These Companies Said Automation Created New Jobs Within Their Organizations
  • More Than a Third Hired People Back Because the Technology Didn’t Work Out
  • Since 2002, 257 U.S. Occupations Declined While 483 Grew


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – July 31, 2014 – Is automation a job killer or creator? Both, according to new research from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl (EMSI). In a nationwide survey, one in five companies (21 percent) reported they have deskilled workers, i.e., replaced employees with automation. Among companies with more than 500 employees, the number is 30 percent.

While eliminating jobs, the vast majority (68 percent) of companies who have replaced workers with automation said their adoption of new technology resulted in new positions being added in their firms. Thirty-five percent of companies that deskilled workers said they ended up creating more jobs in their firms than they had prior to the automation.

The national survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 13 to June 6, 2014, included a representative sample of 2,188 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

Decline and Growth of U.S. Jobs

In separate research, CareerBuilder and EMSI looked at historical acceleration and deceleration of the 786 occupations recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The analysis uses EMSI’s extensive labor market database, which pulls from over 90 national and state employment resources and includes detailed information on employees and self-employed workers.

Since 2002, 257 occupations experienced a decline in employment, roughly one third of all U.S. jobs. At the same time, 483 occupations (61 percent) grew 1 percent or more. The hourly earnings for the growing occupations were nearly $2 higher than the declining occupations.

While some of the losses and gains can be attributed to economic cycles and globalization, arguably automation has also had a significant influence on employment shifts. Consider these examples:

The Internet

The ubiquitous use of the Internet negatively impacted employment in a variety of areas. Travel Agents lost more than 38,000 jobs from 2002 to 2014 as a slew of automated travel web sites were established. This represents a 34 percent decline in a field paying $16.17 per hour.

At the same time, the number of Software Developers and Web Developers in the U.S. increased by 195,000 from 2002 to 2014, paying $43 per hour.

Automation of Data

The automation of data collection and reporting also claimed its fair share of casualties. Data Entry Keyers lost more than 43,000 jobs from 2002 to 2014, a 16 percent decline in a field paying $14 per hour.

At the same time, the widespread adoption of using big data to make smarter business decisions and develop better products and services created a big demand for people who know how to interpret data and make it meaningful for organizations. Market Research Analysts added more than 99,000 jobs from 2002 to 2014, a 28 percent increase in a field paying $29.18 per hour.

“Technological advancements have not only increased productivity, but historically have led to an expansion of employment,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation. “While automation may eliminate some jobs, it also creates other jobs that are higher paying and lifts the standard of living for the economy as a whole. One of the greatest challenges the U.S. faces today is sufficiently preparing the workforce for the influx of more knowledge-based jobs that will likely result from progress in robotics and other STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math).”

Industries and Job Types Most Likely to be Affected

Being at the forefront of innovation, Information Technology firms were twice as likely as all employers to say they have deskilled workers at 42 percent, according to the CareerBuilder/Harris Poll survey. Rounding out the top three industries were Financial Services at 27 percent and Manufacturing at 23 percent.

Across industries, 31 percent of employers predicted that certain jobs within their firms will likely be replaced by technology to some degree in the next decade. The functional areas most likely to be impacted, according to employers, include:

  • Customer Service – 35 percent
  • Information Technology – 33 percent
  • Accounting/Finance – 32 percent
  • Assembly/Production – 30 percent
  • Shipping/Distribution – 25 percent
  • Sales – 17 percent

Man Vs. Machine: When Technology Doesn’t Work

While automation has produced greater efficiencies and output, eliminating the human factor can backfire in some cases. Thirty-five percent of firms that deskilled workers said they hired people back because the technology didn’t work out.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,188 hiring managers and human resource professionals ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between May 13 and June 6, 2014 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 2,188, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2.10 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About EMSI

Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a CareerBuilder company, turns labor market data into useful information that helps organizations understand the connection between economies, people, and work. Using sound economic principles and good data, EMSI builds user-friendly services that help educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions. For more information, visit www.economicmodeling.com.

About CareerBuilder®

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.

Media Contact

Jennifer Grasz

773-527-1164

jennifer.grasz@careerbuilder.com

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CareerBuilder Media Contact
For all media inquiries and interview requests, contact:

Jennifer Grasz
(P) 773-527-1164
(E) jennifer.grasz@careerbuilder.com