This empirical study evaluates whether COVID-19 and the threat of future pandemics has expedited the process of automation in the U.S. The results suggest that the pandemic displaced more workers in automatable occupations, putting them at a greater risk of being permanently automated. The automatable jobs that are more vulnerable to the pandemic include jobs that do not permit remote work, have a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, or are in the most affected sectors. While most of the job losses during the pandemic are expected to be temporary, a replication of the analysis for the Great Recession suggests the losses of automatable jobs could become permanent during the recovery. The pandemic also hit automatable jobs held by minority workers particularly hard, increasing the risk of permanent job losses for these workers who are already vulnerable in the job market.
“Forced Automation” by COVID-19? Early Trends from Current Population Survey Data
This discussion paper provides the first empirical analysis of the impact of COVID-19-induced automation on job losses.