Most US Workers Report Worries About Job Automation

A survey of a national sample of low- to middle-income US adults (annual income $75,000 or less) found that nearly 20% said their jobs were at least partly automated during COVID-19 reports a study in the February Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Close to 60% of American adults surveyed are at least somewhat concerned that their jobs will be replaced by automation, reports a survey study in the February Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
“Job automation is impacting the lives of middle- and low-income US adults and particular groups are vulnerable to ongoing changes in the nature of work,” according to the new research, led by Jack Tsai, PhD, MSCP, Professor of Public Health at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Robotics, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technologies are transforming the nature of work around the world—a trend that has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. To assess the impact of job automation, Dr. Tsai and colleagues surveyed a national sample of low- to middle-income adults (annual income $75,000 or less).
Of 6,607 survey respondents, about 31% said their job moved to virtual communication during the pandemic, while 19% reported reduced hours or salary. Approximately 11% of participants reported that some aspects of their job were automated during the pandemic, while 6% said that their job was entirely automated.
Overall, 57.5% of respondents voiced concerns about job automation. A wide range of factors were associated with worries about automation at work: younger age, male sex, racial/ethnic minority, being a student or veteran, having more children at home, living in the Northeast, history of psychiatric disorders, COVID-19 infection, and recent job changes.
Of 5,531 recently employed participants, 19% said their jobs were at least partially automated during the pandemic. Automation was more likely to be reported by male, racial/ethnic minority, more-educated, and full-time workers, as well as those with a history of psychiatric disorders.
“The findings capture the extent to which different segments of the US population have been affected by job automation during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Tsai and coauthors write. Although most respondents voice concerns, only about one-tenth were “moderately/extremely concerned about automation.”
Population groups disproportionately affected by job automation “may particularly benefit from retraining and vocational assistance programs,” Dr. Tsai and colleagues conclude. “Broad-scale interventions and policies are needed to alleviate concerns about future job automation.”
About the Author
Dr. Tsai may be contacted for interviews at
ACOEM (, an international society of 4,000 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.
About the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine ( is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.


Tsai J; Umucu E; Fish K. Job automation and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic among middle and low-income US adults. J Occup Environ Med. 2023;65(2):113-118.