As business and society continue to integrate AI into so many facets of work and life—and despite what many leaders have said about AI enhancing their workforces, not replacing people—nearly three-quarters of American adults (74 percent) surveyed nevertheless fear higher unemployment is on the horizon, according to new research from the American Staffing Association based on an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll. In addition, almost half (47 percent) of U.S. workers participating in the research now believe AI could easily replace their jobs.
With the launch of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools in recent months, millions of Americans are taking advantage of the ways automation can enhance daily tasks, particularly in the workplace. But excitement around new AI technology also brings the fear that further advancements in automation could threaten or alter future employment, the researchers determine.
As to the 47 percent of employed American respondents who feel automation could easily replace their jobs, the survey reveals these disparities based on industry alignment:
- 56 percent in the industrial sector
- 51 percent in engineering/IT/scientific
- 48 percent in office–clerical/administrative
- 44 percent in professional–managerial
- 39 percent in health care
These findings are in sharp contrast with a 2017 ASA Workforce Monitor survey, which found that 73 percent of employed Americans did not believe their work could easily be replaced by robots or AI. But now that the possibility is more realistic, many have changed their tune.
Overall, employed Americans are split on whether increased automation programs in the workplace will ultimately help or hurt their careers in the future, with 27 percent saying the technology will help and 26 percent saying it will disrupt.
“Workers are trying to figure out what the rise of artificial intelligence means for their careers,” said Richard Wahlquist, chief executive officer at the American Staffing Association, in a news release. “Employers must take responsibility for helping their workforce navigate and evolve to meet rapid changes in the economy through training and upskilling. Further, it’s imperative that organizations communicate with employees as new AI technology is deployed to set expectations and provide transparency.”
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of ASA from June 20–22, 2023, among a total of 2,037 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,225 were employed. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval of +/-2.7 percent.