Last week, we looked at Chat GPT’s take on potential new careers for the post-pandemic period. The logical next question, in our view, is to look at jobs where fewer opportunities may be found by the end of the decade.
Once again, Chat did not quantify its responses or cite sources. In fact, the artificial intelligence (AI) told us “I’m sorry, I don’t have the exact job titles that will experience the largest reduction in employment by 2030, as the job market is constantly changing and the impact of various factors such as technology, automation, and the economy can be difficult to predict with certainty.” Nonetheless, the list of 10 jobs where we can expect large reductions by 2030 that Chat generated tracks closely with information on the US Department of Labor’s lists of job that are expected to have the most rapid declines or jobs that will have the largest decline in the number of jobs between 2021 and 2031.
Chat went on to offer a brief explanation of its findings. “The decline in these jobs is largely due to advancements in technology and automation, which are making many manual and administrative tasks more efficient and reducing the need for human labor.”
Let’s look briefly at each kind of job Chat mentioned.
1. Data Entry Clerks
We don’t have to do a lot of analysis to understand why Chat made this job number one on its “hit list.” When was the last time you called a company to order something? The first time I ordered a Vermont Teddy Bear, for example, I phoned their call center after finding the bear I wanted in their catalog. Then, someone key-entered the order into their system. The last time I ordered a bear, I went to the Web site and keyed the order in myself. No one had to enter the data for me.
The Department of Labor expects data entry keyer jobs to decline more than 38 percent by 2031.
2. Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerk
Recently, a consultant I work with spoke with me about renewing my contract for her work. She generated an invoice from QuickBooks as we spoke, and then I paid it with a few keystrokes. QuickBooks appears to have done the bookkeeping.
Again, Department of Labor statistics agree with Chat GPT. The Department has anticipated that bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk jobs to decline more than 77 percent between 2021 and 2031.
3. Assembly and Factory Workers
Many consumer goods, including sophisticated products such as iPhones and iPads are manufactured overseas. The US Department of Labor projected the demand for helpers and production workers will decline more than 16 percent between 2021 and 2031.
While providing services at a welfare-to-work program, I saw the impact of a loss in manufacturing jobs. For example, I worked with a client who could no longer earn a living with his 8th-grade education because his low-skill manufacturing job was gone.
4. Postal Service Workers
The demise of our Postal Service has been forecast since commercialization of the telegraph in the mid-nineteenth century but it is still here. It continues to operate, in part, because the Postal Service, by law, has to serve every address in America. Despite this mandate, the Department of Labor expects the demand for letter carriers to decline about 15 percent by 2031.
A few years ago most of us received endless calls from telemarketers. We still do, but most of the calls seem to be “robocalls,” or calls from automated equipment rather than a telemarketing salesperson. So we don’t need to wonder why this job appears on the Chat list and the Department of Labor’s list of jobs with the most rapid anticipated decline. The Department estimated telemarketing jobs will decline about 21 percent by 2931.
6. Travel Agent
When was the last time you called a travel agent to book a trip? The last time I booked a trip through an independent agent was 15 years ago. Recently, I spoke with a group that is booking a trip to a remote South Pacific island for an amateur radio contest. All the research for the trip is being done through a well-known travel Web site, and through direct email contact with a resort manager. It’s easy to see, then, why Chat listed travel agent jobs as an occupation that will lose ground between now and the 2030s although DOL does not include travel agent on one of its lists of jobs with declining demand.
7. Bank Teller
The most recent client I’ve spoken with that had a job as a bank teller within the past 20 years worked at a foreign bank before she came to the US. As a bank customer, I have probably gone to a teller window only two or three times in the past decade.
As a result, I was not surprised to find that both Chat GPT and the US Department of Labor view the bank teller occupation as one that is declining. DOL sees a potential reduction of nearly 44 percent for teller jobs by 2031.
8. Retail Salesperson
Chat GPT and the US Department of Labor agree that the role of retail salesperson is a declining occupation. The reason is clear, I think, to many of us. Certain “big box” stores have smartphone apps that tell us what isle to find our merchandise in. Then, we can use a self-check-out station to pay for our purchase. There is no need to interact with a salesperson. That is one reason why the DOL reports that the demand for retail sales workers will decline more than 78 percent by 2031.
9. Tax Preparer
Many of us use computer software and apps to prepare our tax returns instead of consulting tax preparers. When our taxes are too complicated, we go to a CPA for assistance. So, it is not surprising that Chat GPT sees the role of tax preparer as a declining role in the US economy. The DOL does not include tax preparer on its lists of declining occupations, though.
10. Printing Press Operator
Marketing experts have told me that hard-copy books continue to be popular despite the advent of eBooks and e-readers. Nonetheless, both Chat GPT and the Department of Labor view the printer as a declining occupation. The reason is probably at least two-fold. First, printing press operations that were once highly labor intensive, such as typesetting can be automated or eliminated today. Also, many business and public agency documents can be used in electronic formats, generated using laser printers instead of offset presses, or both. So, despite the popularity of printed books, it still seems reasonable for the occupation to decline nearly 24 percent by 2031, as the DOL projects.
Conclusion Although Chat GPT says it cannot predict the future, it gives us results that track closely with more traditional job market forecasts. We found that eight of the ten occupations on Chat GPT’S list appeared on one the DOL lists, too. In other words, use Chat’s results as cautiously as you would use any other Internet source when you do job market research.