Dr. Bakhtiar Moazzami

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Are Robots Coming for Our Jobs? The Economic Impact of Automation on Northern Ontario’s Economy

December 19, 2019 | Dr. Bakhtiar Moazzami

Automation can have both positive and negative effects on economies. Some say that automation can lead to rising productivity, income, and standard of living. On the other hand, concerns include the fact that new technologies could accelerate the pace of change and bring unprecedented occupational disruption and unemployment.

This report examines the impact of automation on industries, jobs, income, income distribution, and communities in Northern Ontario. While examining employment trends in Canada, Ontario, and Northern Ontario during the past 25 years, the study finds that the automation process has not been unique to Northern Ontario. The paper also examines job polarization in industries that have traditionally been the engines of economic growth in Northern Ontario, namely logging and forestry, mining, forest-based manufacturing, health care and social services, and education services industries. To assess occupations which are most and least susceptible to automation, occupations are categorized as follows: non-routine cognitive and analytical, routine cognitive or routine manual, and non-routine manual jobs.

Key Findings:

1. Real earnings growth in Northern Ontario among men has mainly occurred among high earners. On the other hand, women fared better than men as they experienced earnings growth in all segments of income distribution;
2. Few occupations are projected to be fully automated but many positions will be significantly transformed due to new technology;
3. In general, the share of employment in non-routine cognitive and analytical occupations in Northern Ontario has increased while the share of routine cognitive and routine manual jobs has declined significantly;
4. A major shift has happened in women’s distribution of employment in Northern Ontario. The share of women working in non-routine cognitive and nonroutine manual jobs has increased significantly while the opposite has happened for the share of women working in routine cognitive and routine manual jobs;
5. 74.0 per cent of employment in Northeastern Ontario and 76.2 per cent in Northwestern Ontario are in sectors with relatively low potential for automation;
6. Approximately 32.2 per cent and 37.2 per cent of jobs in Northeastern and Northwestern Ontario respectively are in education, health care, and public administration, which have very low potential for automation.

 

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