You’ve likely heard that robots are taking our jobs. Although that’s an extreme statement, there’s some truth to it. Many jobs that once offered good pay or upward mobility within an organization are now being replaced by technology. Some of the disappearing jobs are obvious, like cashiers. We see how automation is eliminating these positions every time we enter the grocery store. But others are less apparent because we don’t see them in day-to-day life. Read below to see five jobs that automation is already killing.
Postal Service Clerks, Sorters and Processors
Postal service clerks sort incoming mail, sell stamps and operate sorting machinery. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a 13 percent decline in demand for postal service workers is expected through 2026. Automated sorting systems and electronic bill paying will greatly decrease employment opportunities for postal workers. Mail carriers will still be needed in the foreseeable future, but job openings will largely be the result of current workers retiring.
Bank tellers process financial transactions such as cashing checks and depositing money. Employment is predicted to decline by eight percent through 2026.* Tellers are quickly being replaced by automated banking technology such as video kiosks and “enhanced ATMs”. Additionally, online banking has already eliminated the need for many customers to visit their banks in person.
Cashiers have traditionally made up a large portion of the job market, particularly for teens and part-time workers. However, self-checkouts have eliminated the need for cashiers at many stores. Grocery stores in particular have been steadily increasing the number of self-checkouts in the past decade. Online shopping is also decreasing the need for cashiers in all types of retail establishments.
In the past, individuals planning a vacation might see a travel agent to help coordinate hotels, rental cars and other aspects of the trip. An agent could find the best deals and attractions based on his or her clients’ interests. Now, thanks to travel websites offering instant price comparisons and easy booking, the need for travel agents has almost been eliminated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 12 percent decline in employment for travel agents through 2026.
Quality Control Inspectors
Manufacturing was once a great career field for high school graduates wanting a stable career, decent pay and benefits. But a large number of manufacturing jobs have been eliminated due to automation. Technological advances allow companies to produce goods faster with much lower labor costs. Automated inspection equipment has reduced the need for quality control inspectors. Three-dimensional scanners reduce the amount of time it takes to inspect parts and finished goods. Demand for quality control inspectors is projected to decrease 12 percent by 2026.
No job is guaranteed protection from automation, but some are more vulnerable than others. Jobs that require nuanced decision making are safer than those that involve routine work. Also, jobs that require helping others directly, like nursing, are safer than behind-the-scenes jobs.
*Source for all employment statistics: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/