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Americans Split on Impact of Automation in the Workplace

Automation in the workplace is a polarizing issue for Americans, according to the results of a new American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor® survey conducted online by Harris Poll. About equal percentages of respondents say that automation (e.g., robots or artificial intelligence) will be a good or a bad thing for the future world of work.

Specifically, 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. A plurality (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.”

“At its May meeting, the ASA board of directors agreed to expand the ASA Skills Gap initiative to include identifying opportunities for ASA and member companies to help facilitate the training, upskilling and reskilling of the American workforce.”

Method

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.

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About the American Staffing Association

The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state and regional affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit americanstaffing.net.

About the ASA Workforce Monitor

The ASA Workforce Monitor is a periodic survey commissioned by ASA and conducted online by Harris Poll among 1,000 or more U.S. adults age 18 and older. The survey series focuses on current workforce trends and issues. For more information about the survey series, visit americanstaffing.net/workforcemonitor.

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