A recent McKinsey study of U.S. workforce trends reveals that automated services are set to replace 22 percent of positions by 2030. The majority of workers who hold those positions are African Americans, who will lose approximately 132,000 jobs.
According to the study, African Americans will have “one of the highest rates of potential job displacement when compared with other groups.” The reason is that African Americans tend to occupy positions that pay lower wages, such as cashiers, customer and food services associates, and attendants. Those positions are ones that can be easily eliminated through automation.
While this news is not positive for African Americans, it has a more sobering effect at the intersection of race and gender. Automation will more negatively impact African American men (24.8 percent), who may not possess college degrees, than women (21.6 percent), who may occupy positions with a strong growth track, such as nursing attendants.
McKinsey offers possible methods for remedying the effects of African American job displacement, including capital infusion into blighted urban communities, attainment of college degrees, and transition into more specialized, higher-paying job sectors. However, it cautions that “higher-growth occupations that currently have a high representation of African Americans may become more attractive to workers of other races, further reducing the already small share of new jobs available to African Americans by 2030.”
Perhaps the most powerful, overarching solution is eradicating the deep racial wealth disparities that negatively impact the nation. Previously McKinsey has reported that “closing the racial wealth gap could net the US economy between $1.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion by 2028.” That major achievement would increase opportunities for all Americans.