These Are the Best Cities in the US for Losing Your Job to a Robot

These Are the Best Cities in the US for Losing Your Job to a Robot
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

We know towns by the industries that made them great: Sin City, Motor City, Hollywood. But when one town leans too hard on any trade, that market had better be secure when robot workers start snatching up the jobs.

Forty-seven percent: That's the number commonly passed around for the proportion of jobs at risk in the United States. But that 47% figure is a country-wide average: America's individual cities are all differently at risk. 

A new study from the Oxford Martin School and Citi Research shows exactly what percent of jobs are at risk for total automation — in over a dozen American cities.

Cities like Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C., are protected by high-skill industries. Finance, insurance, information and the arts are expected by the analysts to hold out in the coming years.

Meanwhile, certain parts of America are finally seeing a new threat: a service-industry catastrophe. Usually, when we think of job automation, we think of robot assembly lines (and make no mistake, the Rust Belt is still vulnerable to further job hits). Now, service jobs, which have been a traditionally strong sector of the economy, could see losses in the coming decades.

Another unfortunate indicator of a city's safety from job automation, of course, is already having an enormous amount of wealth.

But one of the best defenses, the report says, is a really diverse set of industries, as opposed to a city leaning on one source of job creation. 

The report uses Rochester, New York, as a colorful example of how the decline of Eastman Kodak decimated the city's local economy and total population. The unemployment and urban decay in Flint, Michigan, after General Motors closed its factory tells a similar story.

Another unfortunate indicator of a city's safety from job automation, of course, is already having an enormous amount of wealth.

Source: Getty Images

That's just in the U.S. The potential challenge of American job automation pales in comparison to what other countries face. Even if the fate of U.S. jobs is precarious, we've sent some of our most vulnerable industries, like manufacturing, overseas to prop up foreign economies. A separate section of the report from Citi and Oxford is dedicated just to these enormous vulnerabilities.

In China, their job risk is 77%. In Thailand, 72%. In Ethiopia, 85%.

Suddenly, Fresno's circumstances don't seem so dire.

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Jack Smith IV

Jack Smith IV is a senior writer covering technology and inequality. Send tips, comments and feedback to jack@mic.com.

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