Apr 27, 2017

A bleak future for America's cashiers

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

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 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 5,850,258 — Total deaths: 361,249 — Total recoveries — 2,444,898Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 1,724,873 — Total deaths: 101,698 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. Business: Many poor and minority families can't afford food or rent.
  5. 2020: Trump courts Asian American vote amid coronavirus.
  6. ⚽️ Sports: European soccer's push to return.

Trump's big, empty beef with Twitter

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump finally acted on his now year-old threat to take action against social media platforms for alleged bias against conservatives. But so far, according to experts in both government and the industry, the threat looks mostly empty.

Driving the news: Trump escalated his war on Twitter Friday morning, tweeting repeatedly that the company needs to be regulated after it overnight added a warning label to a tweet of his calling for the military to start shooting looters, which violated Twitter’s rules against glorifying violence.

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

The Third Police Precinct burns in Minneapolis on Thursday night. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Demonstrators demanding justice burned a Minneapolis police station and took control of the streets around it last night, heaving wood onto the flames, kicking down poles with surveillance cameras and torching surrounding stores.

What's happening: The crowd was protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose life was snuffed out Tuesday by a white Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for about eight minutes.