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Where robots really threaten jobs

November 9, 2016

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While robots may be giving in the Air Capital, they could be taking away in other parts of the world.

A new policy brief(PDF download) from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development says that robotics could threaten up to two-thirds of the jobs in developing countries.

"The increased use of robots in developed countries risks eroding the traditional labor-cost advantage of developing countries," the brief says. "The share of occupations that could experience significant automation is actually higher in developing countries than in more advanced ones, where many of these jobs have already disappeared, and this concerns about two thirds of all jobs.”

There is also concern in such countries about “reshoring,” though it’s a process the brief cites as having been slow and has having only minor economic impacts thus far.

There has been some reshoring seen in Wichita, where aviation manufacturers have pulled back or slowed work in recent years from outside the country’s borders, particularly in Mexico.

The brief also, however, cites the possible opportunities robotics and automation present the developing world, noting that the technology could allow companies already operating and manufacturing in those countries to expand the scope of their work.

That is exactly what has been happening in Wichita, where, as the most recent cover story in the Wichita Business Journal details, many local manufacturers have actually seen employment gains to technology increases that have allowed them to increase production and win new work.

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