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Officials keep "antenna up" on AI job losses

Illustration of a cursor pushing out a worker holding a cardboard box with their possessions.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Researchers and regulators are tracking which Americans are most at risk of having AI affect their jobs.

The big picture: People with a higher education or a higher wage, women, Asian American and white workers are the "most exposed to AI," according to Pew.

  • But they're also the groups that are more hopeful than concerned that AI will hurt their jobs.

The latest: President Biden's AI executive order gives the Department of Labor until late April to report how government agencies can help people displaced by AI, including through unemployment insurance, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and potentially legislation.

What they're saying: The Labor Department "is vigilant about disproportionate impact on underserved communities," Muneer Ahmad, senior counsel at the Department of Labor, told Axios.

  • "We're keeping our antenna up for how AI in particular affects women and communities of color, as well as people with disabilities."
  • Nicole Jackson, head of digital transformation at Catalyst, a nonprofit focused on building workplaces for women, told Axios: "So many of the administrative tasks that are predominantly oriented for women in the workforce in its current state are deeply impacted by some of the tools that are coming out," such as customer service and education.
  • "That's a potential impact of millions of jobs. The question for us becomes what does that mean for up-skilling and re-skilling and making sure the right resources are aligned for the right population?"

What's next: The government's guidelines are bound to change and evolve, said Ahmad.

  • "I wouldn't be surprised if the principles and best practices that we put out this year need to be revised next year," he said.
  • "The hope is we set the right level or protection and opportunity for workers in this moment, companies will adopt it, workers will demand it, and it will help shape the conversation around AI right now."
  • Connecting the dots to make sure AI helps underrepresented communities in the workforce is the tricky part, but there are positives, Jackson said: "I hope we see a proliferation of women entrepreneurs who realize that they now have a force-multiplying set of AI-enabled things that help them accelerate their ideas."
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