Study Says Job Automation Will Disproportionately Affect Latinos

Job automation will disproportionately affect Latinos and place millions of them at risk of losing their jobs, according to a UCLA report.

The report was conducted by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, and researchers studied occupational data from Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas, which have the nation’s largest Latino populations.

Researchers found an “overrepresentation of Latinos in industries where jobs are most susceptible to automation, like construction, leisure and hospitality, agriculture, and wholesale or retail trade.”

Over seven million Latinos, which represent 40% of the Latino workforce in those six states, are at risk of being displaced by automation.

The study says that 70% of hospitality jobs and 49% of construction jobs could become completely automated soon.

“As Latinos take a disproportionate financial hit from the COVID-19 crisis, now is a good time to focus on increasing training opportunities and to strengthen the social safety net to catch workers who are left behind,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, the report’s author and director of research at the policy initiative.

“Millions of people have lost their jobs amid the pandemic, and the future of those jobs is uncertain as employers look to reduce costs by accelerating automation,” Dominguez-Villegas added. “For many Latinos, the economic recovery will not bring back their jobs.”

The study says that if the U.S. fails to prepare Latinos for jobs in the digital economy and other growing sectors, the U.S. will face economic repercussions “by creating a shortage of skilled workers in an aging and shrinking labor force.”

Latinos make up the country’s youngest demographic group and can fill increasing workforce demands in health care and tech-focused jobs if given proper resources and training, according to the study.

The study gave the following policy recommendations:

— modernize unemployment insurance programs to expand eligibility and provide worker retraining assistance;

— create apprenticeship programs that provide career pathways for digitally oriented jobs and create a pipeline to employers;

— invest in broadband access and programs that connect Latinos with digital technologies;

— increase Latino enrollment in and graduation from higher education institutions and increase access to social-safety services such as housing, food and health care.

“Data is critical as policymakers work with the private sector to ensure that Latinos have access to the training and education opportunities necessary to drive our economy in the digital age,” said Domenika Lynch, executive director of the Aspen Institute program.