Feb 17, 2021 - Economy

100 million workers — displaced

Vanishing apron

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The pandemic has accelerated a number of future-of-work trends, ones with the potential to displace 100 million workers around the world, according to a new McKinsey Global Institute report.

The big picture: Scores of jobs in retail and hospitality will be gone forever. And while they'll be replaced by new roles in health care, e-commerce and beyond, it won't be easy for droves of workers to reskill and jump into new careers.

McKinsey's analysis examined the ways in which work has changed in China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States and concluded that 100 million workers across those countries may need to find new occupations by 2030.

  • The estimate is 17 million in the U.S. alone, according to Susan Lund, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute and co-author of the report.

What's happening: In normal times, someone who loses or leaves a job as a host at a restaurant could move to a role as an assistant manager at a clothing store, Lund says.

  • But the pandemic has strengthened the stay-at-home economy for good. More people will work from home, meaning less foot traffic at shops and eateries in big cities. And Americans' increased reliance on grocery delivery and e-commerce will likely stick.
  • That means many of those restaurant, retail and equivalent jobs in the U.S. and other countries will simply disappear.
  • “The long-term effects of the virus may reduce the number of low-wage jobs available, which previously served as a safety net for displaced workers," Lund says. "Given the digitization and the rise in use of technology spurred by the pandemic, those people will need new jobs."

What to watch: Lund projects many of those new jobs will be in higher-skilled fields like health care, technology and human resources.

  • Countries now face the momentous task of training huge portions of their populations. And none of them are adequately prepared.

Go deeper: Switching careers in a pandemic

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