AI Creates Jobs, Study Suggests European Central Bank study finds surprising growth in jobs affected by AI.

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AI Creates Jobs, Study Suggests: European Central Bank study finds surprising growth in jobs affected by AI.

Europeans are keeping their jobs even as AI does an increasing amount of work. 

What’s new: Researchers at the European Central Bank found that employment in occupations affected by AI rose over nearly a decade. 

How it works: The authors considered jobs that were found to be affected by AI over the past decade according to two studies. As a control group, they considered jobs affected by software generally (“recording, storing, and producing information, and executing programs, logic, and rules”), as detailed in one of the studies. They measured changes in employment and wages in those jobs based on a survey of workers in 16 European countries between 2011 and 2019.

Results: The researchers found that exposure to AI was associated with greater employment for some workers and had little effect on wages. 

  • Employment of high-education workers rose in jobs affected by AI. This result argues against the hypothesis that AI displaces high-skilled occupations. 
  • Employment also rose among younger workers in jobs affected by AI.
  • Employment and wages among low-education workers and older workers fell in jobs affected by software. This effect was far less pronounced in jobs affected by AI. 
  • Wages barely changed in jobs affected by AI. Wages fell slightly by one of the three metrics they considered.

Behind the news: Other studies suggest that automation in general and AI technology in particular may benefit the workforce as a whole.

  • The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that employment in the U.S. in 11 occupations most exposed to AI, such as translators, personal financial advisers, and fast-food workers, grew by 13.6 percent between 2008 and 2018.
  • Economic research in France, the UK, and Japan suggests that industrial automation correlates with increased employment and higher wages.

Yes, but: It may be too soon to get a clear view of AI’s impact on employment, the authors point out. The data that underlies every study to date ends in 2019, predating ChatGPT and the present wave of generative AI. Furthermore, the impact of AI in European countries varies with their individual economic conditions (for instance, Greece tends to lose more jobs than Germany).

Why it matters: Many employees fear that AI — and generative AI in particular — will take their jobs. Around the world, the public is nervous about the technology’s potential impact on employment. Follow-up studies using more recent data could turn these fears into more realistic — and more productive — appraisals.

We’re thinking: AI is likely to take some jobs. We feel deeply for workers whose livelihoods are affected, and society has a responsibility to create a safety net to help them. To date, at least, the impact has been less than many observers feared. One reason may be that jobs are made up of many tasks, and AI automates tasks rather than jobs. In many jobs, AI can automate a subset of the work while the jobs continue to be filled by humans, who may earn a higher wage if AI helps them be more productive.


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