The future of work in America

Automation technologies promise to deliver major productivity benefits that are too substantial to ignore. They are also beginning to reshape the American workplace, and this evolution will become more pronounced in the next decade. Some occupations will shrink, others will grow, and the tasks and time allocation associated with every job will be subject to change. The challenge will be equipping people with the skills that will serve them well, helping them move into new roles, and addressing local mismatches.

This report represents the next stage in the McKinsey Global Institute’s ongoing body of research into the capabilities, potential, and economic impact of these technologies. This work began with A future that works: Automation, employment and productivity, in which we analyzed the automation potential of every occupation by looking at the extent to which its constituent activities can be handled by currently demonstrated technologies. In Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transition in a time of automation, we examined the potential for both job displacement and job growth to assess the potential net impact in multiple countries, as well as the implications for occupations, skills, and wages. Earlier this year, we published The future of women at work: Transitions in the age of automation, exploring more targeted demographic effects in countries around the world by looking through the lens of gender. Now this report continues the exploration by examining the impact on local economies and demographic groups in the United States, placing automation in the context of other ongoing labor market trends that have affected places and people. Its starting point is a geographic segmentation produced for America at work: A national mosaic and roadmap for tomorrow, a research collaboration between McKinsey & Company and the Walmart Foundation.

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