Although most American workers are not concerned about being replaced by rapidly advancing technology, the amount of those who fear a trend has risen to its fastest rate ever.
Fear of becoming obsolete (FOBO) has grown more in the past two years than at any time in the history of the Gallup Poll that started in 2017.
According to Gallup on Sept. 11, 22 percent of workers fear that new technology will be used to replace them, up from 15 percent in 2021—a jump of 7 percentage points.
Previous polls on the topic held steady between 13 and 17 percent.
The polling organization reported that the current rise in FOBO is almost entirely amongst college-educated workers, which rose from 8 to 20 percent.
FOBO for workers without college degrees remained virtually unchanged at 24 percent since 2021.
In the past, concerns about technological replacement were mainly limited to non-college-educated workers. But recent advancements are now resulting in a similar level of concern expressed among both groups.
whereas non-college-educated workers were previously much more concerned about technological replacement than college-educated workers, these groups now express similar levels of concern,” Gallup said.
Younger and Less Well Off Worry About Jobs
The gap between younger and older workers, as well as between those making less and more than $100,000 a year, continue to widen regarding concerns over career obsolescence.
FOBO increased only 2 percentage points among workers over 55 years of age but soared 11 points for those between 18 and 34.
Workers making less than $100,000 recorded a 10 point jump in FOBO, while those making over $100,000 saw a 5 point rise.
Concerns have risen equally among men and women, with both genders expressing a similar rise in fear between age groups.
Although the number of workers concerned over artificial intelligence (AI) and other technological advancements replacing their jobs rose 22 percent, a reduction in benefits remains the most common concern for employees.
Out of the six major concerns in the survey, only the fear that technology could threaten jobs has increased significantly since 2021.
The other five job fears remain well below their highs from after the Great Recession, between mid-2009 to mid-2013.
Still, FOBO remains well below loss of benefits and wage reduction as the top concern facing American workers. Those are major issues for roughly one in five workers, Gallup said.
Nearly a third or 31 percent of respondents said they were worried about losing their job benefits in the near future, followed by wage reductions at 24 percent.
Fears of being laid off stood at 20 percent and having hours cut back was a problem for 19 percent of workers—the lowest levels since the mid-2000s.
Offshoring was the least worrisome concern at 7 percent, the lowest in Gallup’s trend by one point.
Rise of AI Concerning College-Educated Americans
The results of the poll come as writers and actors complain about Hollywood studios’ use of artificial intelligence amid strikes and calls for regulations around the use of the technology.
As one of their key demands, the Writers Guild of America has called for studios to “regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies” in television and movie productions.
After the release of ChatGPT last November showed the ability of AI to mimic human language, many workers are increasingly concerned about what computers can do in the workplace.
Instead of just robots supplanting humans in warehouses and on assembly lines, technological change has expanded to mean that AI software is now able to conduct some sophisticated online tasks, such writing computer code.
Although the minority of workers see an imminent threat to their jobs, most are no more worried today about their work than they were two years ago, as many remain positive about the U.S. labor market.
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