Automation to hit rural areas hardest, study finds

Automation to hit rural areas hardest, study finds
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Advancing technology and automation are likely to hit rural areas and the middle class hardest, according to a new report by McKinsey.

The report, entitled The Future of Work in America, looked at over 3,000 counties and 315 cities, and found that some 83 percent of the counties expected to see the highest levels of job displacement were rural areas. Those vulnerable areas house 20.3 million people.

Large urban centers and their peripheries would see a lower rate of displacement, and also benefit more from the creation of new jobs that likely require more skills and education.

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"Urban areas with more diversified economies and workers with higher educational attainment, such as Washington, DC, and Durham, NC, might feel somewhat less severe effects from automation," the report said.

The trend will only exacerbate an uneven recovery from the Great Recession, where much of the job growth has been concentrated in cities and hubs, while distressed rural areas still have a net loss of jobs.

Another trend the report said was "worrisome" was the hollowing out of middle-income jobs.

"Our analysis suggests that by 2030, they could decline as a share of national employment by 3.4 percentage points," the report found.

"Forging career pathways to help people move up and finding sources of future middle-wage jobs will be essential to sustaining the US middle class," it continued.

Much of that has to do with what kinds of jobs are created and lost as automation increases.

Office support and food service jobs could decline, but jobs in health, STEM fields, business services and more creative fields would see growth.

"Growth and displacement may occur even within the same occupational category," the report noted. "In customer service and retail sales, for example, counter attendants and rental clerks may decline, but more workers could be added to help customers in stores or to staff distribution centers," it added.

The changing face of the American economy is a central issue in many of the political campaigns. 

2020 Democratic contender Andrew YangAndrew YangDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE's central campaign promise is introducing a universal basic income to combat automation, which would provide every family with $1,000 a month.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJulián Castro is behind in the polls, but he's finding a niche Gabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' MORE (I-Vt.) are campaigning on restructuring the economy to help those at the bottom. 

In 2016, President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE ran as an advocate for forgotten rural areas.