4 careers where workers will have to change jobs by 2030 due to AI and shifts in how we shop, according to a McKinsey study


According to a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, nearly 12 million Americans may need to switch jobs by 2030 due to shrinking demand in their current occupations. This shift is predicted to be driven by factors such as the rise of AI, an aging population, and the growth of e-commerce. While the "Great Resignation" in recent years was motivated by workers seeking better pay and work-life balance, the study suggests that by 2030, around 11.8 million workers will have to change jobs out of necessity rather than choice. Of those, approximately nine million may have to find employment in completely new industries. The study also highlights that lower-wage workers are expected to be most affected by these changes. According to the researchers, 75% of the projected job declines are concentrated in office support, customer service and sales, food services, and production work, such as manufacturing.

The study suggests that four key factors are driving these projected shifts in job demand. First, the automation of jobs, including advancements in generative AI technologies like ChatGPT, could potentially automate up to 30% of work hours in the US by 2030. While the impact on STEM, creative, business, and legal professionals is expected to be more about enhancing their work rather than replacing them, occupations in office support, customer service and sales, and food services may be negatively affected. The study anticipates a decline in jobs such as clerks, retail salespersons, administrative assistants, and cashiers due to these positions involving repetitive tasks and data processing that can be efficiently handled by automated systems. In customer service, improved chatbots could also impact job demand.

Another factor contributing to job shifts is the continued rise of online shopping, which may reduce the need for salespeople in physical stores while increasing demand for transportation and warehouse-related roles. Additionally, the demographic shift in the US, with an aging population, may result in changing demand for certain jobs. The study suggests increased demand for healthcare workers across various roles, ranging from nursing aids to surgeons and radiologists. Lastly, despite a resurgence in US manufacturing, productivity gains could reduce the number of workers needed in the industry, necessitating a more skilled workforce.

The study acknowledges that the degree of positivity or negativity regarding these job shifts for the US workforce is debatable. It highlights the importance of retraining vulnerable workers to transition into higher-demand occupations. A glass-half-empty perspective focuses on the vulnerability of low-paid workers, while a glass-half-full viewpoint suggests that, with successful reskilling initiatives, workers could secure higher-paying roles. The study emphasizes the need for substantial investment from companies, schools, and governments to facilitate this transition. It also suggests the adoption of a more skills-based labor market, where specific skill sets are valued during the hiring process as much as if not more than, a college degree. The study concludes by noting that while these challenges are new, historical examples, such as the transition from agriculture to factory work, demonstrate that with optimism and effort, the US can successfully navigate these changes. 

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