LA area workers most at risk of losing jobs to automation, study finds

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019
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A new study shows Southern California is at risk of losing more jobs to automation, than anywhere else in the nation.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new study shows Southern California is at risk of losing more jobs to automation than anywhere else in the nation.

Johannes Moenius at the University of Redlands says it's not just robots taking over, but automation in general.

"You drive to a McDonald's and instead of seeing five cashiers, you just see one cashier and you see 20 tablet inputs," he said.

A recent study by the Century Foundation listed the cities most affected by robots.

The top five markets when it comes to robot workers are Detroit, Phoenix, Houston, Chicago and No.1 is the Los Angeles area consisting of L.A. Long Beach and Santa Ana, where there are 145 human workers for every robot.

"Right now, we have a lot of mass produced manufacturing being done in places like China, Vietnam and so on," Moenius said. "So, fast forward 10, 15, 20 years, thanks to automation, we can do the mass production here in the United States cheaper because we save on all the transportation and coordination costs."

"It means a lot of the importance we now place in the ports of L.A. and Long Beach may no longer be justified," Moenius added.

That means the very jobs that have flourished in the Inland Empire over the past 20 years could soon be gone.

"Exactly the slice of the job market that was so rich in the last 20 or 30 years, that's going to be under attack, and that's what keeps me up at night," Moenius said.

Not that the news is all bad. Moenius said the technology could lead to more free time for other activities.