There's an 83 percent chance that low-wage workers will have their jobs taken over by robots in the years ahead, White House economists warned Monday.
Workers earning under $20 an hour are highly likely to see their jobs automated in the future, according to the Council of Economic Advisers' Economic Report of the President released Monday. But those earning more than $20 an hour are at a much-reduced risk, and those earning over $40 an hour see almost no such risk, according to the report.
The risk of having your job effectively taken over by a robot, Council of Economic Advisers chairman Jason Furman told reporters Monday, "varies enormously based on what your salary is."
Furman said that the risk of many of today's jobs being performed by robots is "another example of why those investments in education to make sure that people have skills that complements automation are so important," referring to programs advocated by President Obama.
The analysis of automation versus jobs in the report was based on a 2013 study of automation of jobs performed by Oxford researchers that assigned a risk of automation to 702 different occupations. The White House economists then matched those occupations to wage levels in the U.S. to determine workers' risk of having their jobs automated by income level.
Whether better robots will lead to higher underemployment has been a topic of debate among economists in recent years. The economic advisers' report doesn't reach any clear conclusions, but warns that workers could be at a disadvantage in the short term as traditional jobs disappear and they have to retrain for new jobs, and also that higher automation could lead to greater inequality.