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Future of Jobs research points to industry most at risk for automation in Salt Lake County

Posted By Regional Development
June 03, 2020

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In the past two years economic development director Blake Thomas saw an uptick in national conversations about automation, leaving an unaddressed opportunity for its discussion on a local level in Utah.

This idea transformed into a larger conversation about what work, and the workplace, will look like in the future for Salt Lake County residents.

To answer many questions in that conversation, automation research was conducted in 2019, which can now be explored in the newly-released “Automation Brief Report 2020: Workers and Jobs in an Automated Economy.”

The Automation Brief Report discusses how automation will impact various industries present in Salt Lake County, and where data points to needed focus on facilitating transitions into new job opportunities in demand.

According to the research, an estimated 33,400 jobs in Salt Lake County have a 98-99% likelihood of becoming automated. However, we detailed 11 policy recommendations to address that unemployment.

This information is particularly important and relevant as state and local decision makers strategize economic recovery from COVID-19. Identifying policies and recommendations that aid in long-term strategic recovery, not just short-term stop gaps, will be crucial in the coming months to maintain a resilient economy in Utah post-coronavirus.

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“When we undertook this research, we were looking to improve the lives of residents and help local businesses,” Thomas said. “In light of the current crises, this research is even more important to help guide decision makers towards solutions that ensure the health, safety and economic security of our residents in a post-coronavirus economy.”

"We are working with partners to propose future actions to mitigate negative consequences of automation and COVID-19."

Policy recommendations to mitigate technological unemployment include:

  • Creation of municipal, county and state digital economy strategies
  • Creation of financial incentives for schools to create or maintain programs in top Utah Department of Workforce Services growth sectors
  • Creation of robust retraining programs for those in the workforce at high risk for displacement, as well as expansion of existing training and credentialing programs
  • Public investment in infrastructure and buildings
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View and share the two-part research and its summary at slco.org/future-of-jobs.