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Americans Split On Impact of Workplace Automation

(Image: American Staffing Association)

(Image: PRNewsfoto/ American Staffing Association)

Workplace automation is a polarizing issue for Americans, according to the results of a new American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor® survey. About equal percentages of respondents say that automation in the workplace—robots or artificial intelligence—will be a good or a bad thing for the future world of work.

About one-third (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: 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.”

Harris Poll conducted the survey online within the U.S. on behalf of ASA March 7–9, 2017, among a total of 2,133 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Results were weighted on age, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and geographic region where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population.