Automation Anxiety

With automation anxiety surging in the United States James Feigenbaum and Daniel P. Gross at CATO study one of the largest youth-specific automation shocks in modern history: the automation of telephone operation (CATO)

In the 1920s, telephone operation was among the most common jobs for young women, at its peak accounting for around 4 percent of the nearly three million young, white, American‐​born women in the workforce. But between 1920 and 1940, telephone exchanges serving more than half the U.S. telephone network were mechanized, replacing most functions of local operators. The fraction of U.S. female employment exposed to this shock was comparable to the fraction of today’s U.S. workforce employed as cashiers, office clerks, or customer service workers—common entry‐​level jobs that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will decline over the next decade due to automation, similar to the recent decline in executive assistant employment, which exceeds that of U.S. manufacturing.