Cities against automation

Cities against automation

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The smaller the city, the greater the impact from automation, while larger metros are more resilient in the face of technological unemployment, according to a study from MIT’s Media Lab. Researchers have identified which jobs and skills tend to be more prevalent in smaller cities and their larger counterparts.

Bigger metros can boast a disproportionately large number of jobs for those engaged in cognitive and analytical tasks, occupations which are less likely to be disrupted by automation, while small cities tend to have a good deal of routine clerical work, like cashier and food service jobs, which are at greater risk.

The Media Lab points to a quintet of metropolitan areas they think will experience the lowest job impact from automation – San Jose and Santa Clara, California; Washington DC, Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia; Trenton, New Jersey; Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Among the cities most at risk are Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Elkhart County, Indiana; and Punta Gorda, Florida.

“Large cities have more unique occupations and industries, but distribute employment less uniformly across those occupations,” the study says. “This juxtaposition of both diversity and specialisation in large cities is reconcilable [via] the division of labour argument [which demonstrates that] large firms have better ability to support specialised workers, along with the management required to coordinate them.”

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