New research has revealed that 3,900 US jobs were lost to artificial intelligence (AI) in May, making it the seventh biggest factor behind job losses, behind economic challenges and large-scale cost-cutting efforts.
According to the report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, these losses contributed to the total of 136,831 jobs that have been lost in the tech sector this year — the largest wave of layoffs to strike the industry since 2001.
But job security isn't the only concern surrounding AI. Last week a number of tech professionals including the CEO of OpenAI signed an open letter citing the “risk of extinction” AI poses, and comparing its potential damages to a pandemic or nuclear war.
AI Replaces Almost 4,000 Workers in May
AI-driven tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard are providing businesses with countless ways to save time and improve operational efficiency.
However, according to a recent report released by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a consequence of this is that 3,900 jobs were replaced by the technology in May of this year. This represents around 5% of the total 80,089 redundancies that took place throughout the month.
According to a spokesperson from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, while AI's impact is notable, its rapid adoption was only responsible for layoffs within the tech sector, and this was the first month on record that the smart technology has been included as a factor.
As major companies like telecoms company BT cut back on salary payments to fund AI investments, AI is undoubtedly going to disrupt the job market more in future months. But as the US teeters on a potential recession, the leading reason behind cuts across sectors is market volatility, cost-cutting, business closures, and restructuring efforts.
Nearly Half a Million Workers Lost Their Jobs in 2023
The tech industry isn't the only sector that's making large-scale cuts to personnel this year, though. The report revealed that aside from the 136,831 jobs lost in tech, the retail and financial sectors axed 45,168 and 36,937 jobs respectively.
Across all industries, almost half a million (417,500) workers have been shown the door in 2023 already, compared to 363,824 redundancies that took place throughout the whole of 2022.
“So far this year, companies have announced plans to cut 417,500 jobs, a 315% increase from the
100,694 cuts announced in the same period last year.” – Challenger Report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas
While job losses aren't on track to exceed the 1.4 million layoffs throughout Covid-19, as consumer confidence remains week and business leaders brace for an uncertain future, sweeping layoffs aren't expected to adjourn anytime soon.
AI Threatens More Than The Job Market
As AI replaces more and more workplace processes, workers are scared about their job security. New research by background checking company Checkr revealed that 78% of workers are concerned the technology may impact their pay, while 74% fear it will replace their jobs altogether.
But are these concerns valid? They might be. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that 80% of US jobs are likely to be affected by AI at some point, with high earners in the tech and finance sectors at greater risk.
AI's impact is skewed along gender lines too, as female members are more likely to work in secretarial and administrative roles that are more vulnerable to AI.
But anxieties around AI aren't just limited to job security. As AI continues to develop without adequate checks and balances, a number of technology experts and policymakers signed an open letter last week, citing potential dangers.
The letter, which was signed by notable figures including Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, Bill Gates, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, calls for AI to be seen as a global priority, alongside other “societal-scale risks” like pandemics and nuclear wars.