New Yorkers Hurt Most By Pandemic Job Losses Also Most Vulnerable To Automation

By Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director, Center for an Urban Future

If it was not already clear that New York needs a major new investment in workforce.

Investment is a need in training, upskilling, and lifelong learning, our new report adds compelling evidence.

Our latest study, published on Wednesday, finds that many of the New Yorkers who have been hit hardest by job losses during the COVID-19 crisis are also the workers most vulnerable to automation, an economic force that has accelerated over the past year.

Although automation may not cause immediate layoffs, it will likely contribute to less robust hiring in several industries that fared worst over the past year and require workers in these positions to develop new skills and competencies to remain on the job.


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Our report, titled Upskilling for an Equitable Recovery, reveals the jobs most vulnerable to automation are disproportionately held by New Yorkers who are Hispanic, younger, and male, with the jobs of young men of color most at-risk.

Among occupations that are the most highly automatable, 76 percent of jobs are held by Black, Hispanic, and Asian New Yorkers, even though they make up just 57 percent of the city’s total workforce.

Among occupations that are the most highly automatable, 76 percent of jobs are held by Black, Hispanic, and Asian New Yorkers, even though they make up just 57 percent of the city’s total workforce.

Hispanic New Yorkers are especially vulnerable. They makeup 24 percent of the city’s workforce but account for 41 percent of highly automatable jobs in the city.

Hispanic New Yorkers are especially vulnerable. The make up 24 percent of the city’s workforce but account for 41 percent of highly automatable jobs in the city.

In contrast, white workers in the city comprise 40 percent of the overall workforce but account for just 22 percent of automatable jobs.

In contrast, white workers in the city comprise 40 percent of the overall workforce but account for just 22 percent of automatable jobs.

Automation will likely spur new job creation in New York, but many of the new positions will also require college credentials and specialized skills.

To counter these challenges and help ensure an equitable recovery, our report urges city and state officials, and the candidates running for mayor, to make major new investments in upskilling, lifelong learning, and job training.

To counter these challenges and help ensure an equitable recovery, our report urges city and state officials, and the candidates running for mayor, to make major new investments in upskilling, lifelong learning, and job training.

Specifically, we recommend the next mayor to launch an Automation Preparation Plan, a new fund that would enable new upskilling pathways and programs; scaling up technology training and digital literacy programs; guiding a major expansion of online and hybrid short-term credentials aligned with industry needs; and creating city-sponsored lifetime training accounts.



To read the full report, click on the link: Upskilling for an Equitable Recovery

The report was featured in an extensive article in The CityHow the Pandemic is Speeding Up Job Automation for Struggling New Yorkers.

For more of our recent research about building a more inclusive economy, please check out:

The Center for an Urban Future (CUF) is a leading think tank focused on building a stronger and more inclusive economy in New York. CUF receives general operating support from The Clark Foundation and the Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation. We are also grateful for support from Fisher Brothers Foundation for the Center for an Urban Future’s Middle-Class Jobs Project, and ongoing support from a number of other philanthropic funders.

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