COVID-19 Induced Automation: An Exploratory Study of Critical Occupations

December 9, 2020

// Health Data

Whether your welding partner is a robotic arm on the assembly line or you open the door to a roving bot delivering pizza on Purdue’s campus, at some point you have likely asked yourself “what’s next?” – or, more importantly, “am I next?”

This issue of PCRD’s Research & Policy Insights may partially answer this question for you. The results of our COVID-19 Induced Automation Study finds that 7% of Indiana occupations are, in fact, most at risk of automation, including some essential jobs you might not think of right off the top of your head like: Pharmacy Technicians, Maintenance & Repair Workers, and Nonfarm Animal Caretakers. While other occupations, such as Food Servers, Waiters & Waitresses, Janitors & Cleaners and Dishwashers, may actually be witnessing the transition to their mechanical replacements.

23% of Indiana jobs as of 2018 are at high risk of pandemic-induced automation

17% of all the occupations in Indiana are at high risk of pandemic-induced automation

Marion County has the largest number of Essential Industry jobs as of 2018

Martin County has the largest share of Essential Industry jobs as of 2018

The full study explains how the indices were developed to measure the risk of automation. The initial analysis suggests that food preparation and service occupations, as well as cleaning-related occupations, have a higher chance of pandemic-induced automation, while medical and health care professionals, although they face high disease exposure risk, are less likely to be automated. Of course, this study is exploratory and does not account for constraints, such as the financial capacity of the firms given that automation is a capital-intensive undertaking, and public policy non-intended distortions, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), extended unemployment benefits, and others.

Check this out and discover what your risk of automation could be! You might even find your own occupation listed on Table 3, which shows the top 20 high-automation/high-exposure occupations sorted by total employment in each of the essential industries.

Written byMelinda Grismer

Melinda Grismer, a Community and Regional Development Specialist with the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD), has expertise in grant-writing, facilitation, strategic planning, board governance...