Author: Neil Harrington
Previous articles in this series looked at the North Carolina labor market’s exposure to automation related employment disruptions at the occupation and industry level. This article builds on that work by examining the demographic composition of workers in the most exposed industries, specifically by race. Demographic groups that are overrepresented in exposed industries reflect subsectors’ high share of these workers and their current education or skills levels. Many of the occupations and industries that face the most exposure to automation have more jobs typically requiring lower levels of educational attainment or formal skills training. This trend generally holds among the demographic groups most overrepresented in exposed industries. Without proper guardrails in place such as robust worker training systems and industry supports, automation could disproportionately impact certain segments of the population, many of which are already vulnerable in the current economy.
White workers make up the largest share of employment in exposed industries but hold a larger share of total employment than other racial or ethnic groups in North Carolina, making their total share considerably higher than the exposed industry share. Relative to their shares of total employment, Black, Hispanic or Latino, and Native American workers are most overrepresented in industry subsectors most exposed to automation related employment disruptions. Therefore, automation disruptions could threaten workers who already face significant labor market challenges, which could worsen inequality in the state.