Millions of Latinos at Risk of Job Displacement by Automation

The potential acceleration of job automation spurred by COVID-19 will disproportionately affect Latinos in U.S. service sector jobs, according to a new report from the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin. The report calls on state and local officials to start planning now to implement programs to support and retrain these workers. Researchers looked at occupational data from the six states with the largest Latino populations and found an overrepresentation of Latinos in industries where jobs are more susceptible to automation, including construction, leisure and hospitality, agriculture, and wholesale or retail trade. More than 7.1 million Latinos, representing almost 40% of the Latino workforce in those six states — Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas — are at high risk of being displaced by automation, the report shows. “As Latinos take a disproportionate financial hit from the COVID-19 crisis, now is a good time to focus on increasing training opportunities and to strengthen the social safety net to catch workers who are left behind,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, the report’s author and director of research at the policy initiative. A failure to prepare Latinos for jobs in the digital economy and other growing sectors will come with economic repercussions to the U.S. by creating a shortage of skilled workers in an aging and shrinking labor force, the report says. The research will be used as a baseline for discussion at a convening this month of policymakers, industry leaders, training organizations and higher education administrators organized by the Aspen Institute’s Latinos and Society Program. — Eliza Moreno


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