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NextGen Magazine


Robots Estimated to Displace 8.5 Percent of Global Manufacturing Workforce

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jun 26, 2019

Increasing automation in the manufacturing sector is estimated to result in the displacement of about 8.5 percent of its global workforce over the next decade, or roughly 20 million workers, according to CNN. The study, conducted by analytics and consulting firm Oxford Economics, said that, today, each new robot displaces about 1.6 human workers. While robots have long been part of the manufacturing sector, the report said that, since the average cost of such machines has dropped by 11 percent from 2011 to 2016, their adoption is bound to accelerate as the years go on. On the one hand, the report estimates that this will make businesses far more efficient, as increasing robot installations by just 30 percent by 2030 would boost global GDP by $4.9 trillion. On the other hand, however, the report warned that this trend could contribute to global inequality: While robots actually create new jobs as they are installed, these jobs tend not to be comparable to the ones that manufacturing workers wind up losing. These workers, already relatively low-income, will not be as able to take advantage of this productivity boom due to the skills gap. This means that policy makers will need to take seriously the question of what to do about all these displaced workers, especially in areas with strong manufacturing sectors.