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Richard Drew / AP

Around 3.5 million Americans are employed as cashiers, representing more than 2.5 percent of the workforce. But those jobs are at risk as more and more retailers experiment with automation. LinkedIn Managing Editor Chip Cutter today sounded the alarm, pointing out the country's lack of preparedness for such massive economic dislocation:

"While it's not a high-paying job (the median hourly pay for cashiers nationally is $9.70 per hour), it's an accessible one. People of all ages, skill levels and educational backgrounds can get hired to do the work, often without multiple interviews or even a drug test," Cutter said. "And unlike some occupations, cashier positions can be found across the U.S., not clustered in big cities or on the coasts.In other words, cashiers are everywhere today. But they may soon be nowhere. Are cashiers ready for that? Is the economy?"

Flashback: Last month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Axios that humans losing jobs to artificial intelligence applications is "not even on our radar screen."

Counterpoint: Cashier jobs are sometimes compared to bank teller jobs, which have largely leveled off and even climbed in some places after a major culling in the decade following widespread adoption of automated teller machines. The argument goes that ATMs made bank branches cheaper to operate, which led banks to open more branches that still required tellers (albeit fewer than in the past).

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

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