Survey: Nearly Half of US Firms Hope to Reduce Staff By Using AI

You're not wrong to worry, it turns out: A lot of bosses really do want to replace you with automation and AI.

Afraid that advances in artificial intelligence will make it harder to find jobs? You should be, a new survey confirms.

45% of businesses that responded to a recent report listed staff and labor reductions as a goal behind the use of new task automation processes since January 2022. Even more (85%) cited a goal of enhancing their output speed or quality.

The genuine value that lies in AI tools remains to be seen, but the nascent technology has made leaps and bounds over the past few years, making terms like ChatGPT household names. At the same time, we’ve seen a sustained movement in the tech industry towards ever more layoffs. Surveys like this help the connection between those two trends come into focus.

AI Plans for the Next Two Years? Even More Staff Reductions

The report, completed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond just last month, polled hundreds of firms about their adaptation of automation technology over the past few years, as well as their plans for the next two.

Whether looking to the recent past or the near future, similar trends emerged. While 45% of firms said that they adapted automation over the past few years as part of a path towards reducing their employees, a very similar 46% of firms said they planned to do the same “over the next two years.”

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Still, getting rid of workers was only the fourth biggest reason why firms planned to adapt AI across the next 24 months. The top three reasons were to enhance business processes (75%), increasing the quantity of employee output (57%) or increasing the quality of employee output (also 57%).

Firms could pick multiple answers for their forecasted goals, yet just 19% said that they planned to use AI to complete “tasks associated with hard-to-find positions.”

Manufacturing Companies Are Automating More

Not all these companies are adapting AI at all, or at least not just yet. A little fewer than half had started automating tasks in the last two years, while a little over half said that they had not done so.

In addition, the manufacturing sector — one that has long embraced traditional forms of automation — was more likely to have picked up new automations.

“Of the Fifth District firms that responded, 46 percent had automated tasks in the past two years while 51 percent had not (the remainder were unsure). Manufacturing firms were more likely than service sector firms to have implemented automation (53 percent compared to 43 percent).” – the report

If the company goals listed in this report wind up happening, we should see a continued boost in production across plenty of different sectors, combined with continued job losses as nearly half of companies continue replacing humans with AI.

Is Your Job Safe?

Businesses have been relying on more than just AI to downsize over the last few years: Another survey found that a quarter of CEO and executives were hoping for employees to leave in the wake of their anti-remote-work return-to-office pushes.

The AI hype bubble may yet burst, if the technology can’t prove that it can handle replacing entire employees across a variety of positions. Until then, however, you’ll likely see the tech job market continue to limp along. While you’re waiting, we’ve got a few articles that might help.

First, check out the latest roundup of fully remote positions open this month across some of the most remote-friendly companies from Microsoft to Nvidia. Second, try prepping for job interviews with our guides to the most likely questions to be ready for, as well as the single most important question that you can ask during an interview. The market might be tough, but AI still can’t do everything.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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