NC Department of Commerce, Labor & Economic Analysis Logo

What Industries Are Using AI? Current Use and Future Expectations

This article examines industry differences in artificial intelligence (AI) adoption rates, specific applications, and expectations for employment changes across the nation. By understanding these trends, we aim to extrapolate insights relevant to North Carolina.

Author: Maggie Smith

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Business Trends and Outlook Survey, our previous article examined the adoption and use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies among businesses in North Carolina. In this article, we will examine national sector-level data from the same Census Bureau survey. Although sector-specific data is not available at the state level, analyzing the national trends can help shed light on potential patterns and implications for North Carolina businesses and workforce development efforts.

Current and Future AI Adoption Rates by Sector

Adoption of AI in the U.S. overall is relatively low with only 5% of businesses utilizing the technology currently. However, the adoption rate varies by industry (Figure 1). Information and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Service sectors lead the way with 18% and 12% of businesses, respectively, reporting current use of AI, whereas Agriculture and Construction are sectors with low AI adoption at 1% each. Businesses report that future use of AI within the next six months is projected to increase across all sectors, though the percentages again vary widely. Interestingly, AI adoption patterns across sectors correspond with the occupational impact prediction that white-collar, office jobs will be more impacted by AI than physical, outdoor jobs.

Figure 1

AI Adoption Varies Widely by Sector

AI Marketing Automation and Data Analytics by Sector

The top two applications for future AI utilization in the U.S are marketing automation and data analytics. These trends generally align with the North Carolina data, where 41% of NC businesses planning to use AI reported using it for marketing automation and 28% for data analytics.

An examination of U.S. sector-specific data (Figure 2) reveals that numerous industries anticipate using these AI applications. For instance, AI-driven marketing automation is projected not only in sectors such as Real Estate, Retail, and Accommodation and Food Services but also in less obvious sectors like Construction, Education, and Agriculture. Similarly for data analytics, industries such as Utilities, Management, and Transportation and Warehousing are leading in projected AI use. However, even in sectors like Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation about one in five businesses that report future AI usage, expect to use AI for data analytics by the end of summer.

Figure 2

The Top 2 Anticipated AI Applications Utilized Across Sectors

Employment Trends by Sector 

Among U.S. businesses expecting to incorporate AI in the next six months, 88% reported that their total employment levels will remain unchanged. Figure 3 shows the industry breakdown of the small percentage of businesses reporting an increase or decrease in total employment. The Information sector, the leading adopter of AI, also tops the list for projected employment increases, with 10% of businesses expecting growth, while only 4% anticipate a decline, placing it among the lowest for employment decreases. A similar trend is evident in the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector. Without specific figures on the number of employees expected to be added or laid off, the precise impact of projected employment changes on overall employment levels remains unclear. However, it is intriguing to consider the potential for AI to lead to employment increases in these high-usage sectors.

Figure 3

Predicted Employment Changes Varies by Sector


While overall AI adoption remains low, certain sectors like Information and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services are leading the way. The primary AI applications, marketing automation and data analytics, show broad applicability across various sectors, including some unexpected ones like Construction and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation. And finally, while most businesses do not anticipate changes in employment levels, sectors with higher AI adoption rates, such as Information and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, may be showing signs of optimism for potential employment growth.

Related Topics: