IMF: Artificial Intelligence Will “Significantly Transform” World Economy and Jobs

Leading economists say AI could “impact” 40% of jobs worldwide.

From month to month over the past two years, industry analysts and economic think tanks have tried to accurately peg the number of jobs lost, displaced, or adjusted by the emergence of artificial intelligence.

The latest contender is the International Monetary Foundation, which notes in a recent IMFBlog research post that AI will “impact” approximately 40% of global jobs.

In more advanced economies like the U.S., Europe, and China, AI is likely to impact 60% of all jobs, mostly due to “greater” AI-induced changes, the IMF reports.

“Many studies have predicted the likelihood that jobs will be replaced by AI,” the IMF notes. “Yet we know that in many cases AI is likely to complement human work. The IMF analysis captures both these forces.”

The foundation calls its findings “striking”, with at least half of global employment exposed to AI.

“Historically, automation and information technology have tended to affect routine tasks, but one of the things that sets AI apart is its ability to impact high-skilled jobs,” the report states. “As a result, advanced economies face greater risks from AI—but also more opportunities to leverage its benefits—compared with emerging market and developing economies.”

About 50% of the exposed jobs may benefit from AI integration, which is good news for global career professionals.

“For the other half, AI applications may execute key tasks currently performed by humans, which could lower labor demand, leading to lower wages and reduced hiring. In the most extreme cases, some of these jobs may disappear,” the IMF notes.

Benefits to Higher Earners

The ripple effects of AI on businesses and workers should continue to expand going forward, leading to “polarization” within income brackets.

“Workers who can harness AI seeing an increase in their productivity and wages—and those who cannot are falling behind,” the report states. “Research already shows that AI can help less experienced workers enhance their productivity more quickly. Younger workers may find it easier to exploit opportunities, while older workers could struggle to adapt.”

AI productivity, if used adroitly, should also benefit high-income workers and their businesses in outsized ways, the IMF says.

“The effect on labor income will largely depend on the extent to which AI will complement high-income workers,” the report concluded. “If AI significantly complements higher-income workers, it may lead to a disproportionate increase in their labor income.”

“Moreover, gains in productivity from firms that adopt AI will likely boost capital returns, which may also favor high earners,” the IMF adds.

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