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Pew Poll Highlights Challenges of Technological Unemployment

According to a recent blog posting on the website TechCrunch, a survey of more than 2,000 Americans conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015 found that 65 percent believe robots or software programs will “definitely” or “probably” be able to replace much of the human workforce within the next fifty years. While this finding might not be shocking in light of the growing discussion around the changing role of technology in society, what you might find surprising is that when asked about the impact of technology on their own job prospects, 80 percent of that same pool of respondents were convinced their own professions would remain largely or entirely unchanged over that same fifty year span.

The Pew research, while far from being comprehensive, does underscore the uncertainty many people harbor toward technological change and its potential impacts on their future lives and careers. For job creators, an even more revealing statistic might be hiding in the survey results, however. Of the different occupations surveyed, those respondents whose jobs involved physical or manual labor – the very jobs that research shows will be most vulnerable to replacement by technology in the coming decades – had the highest percentage (41 percent) who believed their jobs would continue to exist mostly unchanged in 2065. In other words, job creators have their work cut out for them to get themselves, and their workforces, prepared for the transformative changes waiting just around the corner.

Fortunately, the issue of technological unemployment is on our radar here at the North Carolina Chamber. Currently, the North Carolina Chamber Foundation is engaged in research to determine the best next steps to take to address this issue. In the coming weeks, the Chamber will be sharing those plans and reaching out to members for feedback. We will need the help of members like you as we begin to take these next steps to prepare North Carolina’s workforce for unprecedented technological change, and we will keep you updated as these efforts progress.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber