Americans Split on Impact of Automation in the Workplace

Staff Report

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Automation in the workplace is a polarizing issue for Americans, according to the results of a new American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor survey conducted online by Harris Poll. About equal percentages of respondents say that automation (e.g., robots or artificial intelligence) will be a good or a bad thing for the future world of work.

Specifically, 34% of Americans say automation will be a positive development for the workforce in the next 10 years or more—compared with 31% who say it will be negative. A plurality (35%) are neutral on the matter or just don't know.

However, more than four in five Americans think that increased automation will revolutionize work (83%)—and that this transformation is inevitable (82%). A substantial majority think that automation will fundamentally change the quantity (79%) and types (68%) of jobs available in the U.S. Seven in 10 (72%) say its increased use will lead to higher unemployment.

But most Americans are in denial that automation will ever affect their work life. Nearly three quarters (73%) do not believe that their work can be easily replaced by robots or artificial intelligence, and 85% agree that the human factor outweighs any benefits from mechanizing their job. Nine in 10 (90%) say that there are some tasks that automation will never be able to take over from humans.

"Automation is revolutionizing the who, what, where, and how people will work in the future," said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. "The ASA Workforce Monitor found that nearly nine out of 10 (87%) Americans believe that to succeed in this new world of work, additional training will be needed."