(Natural News) A report by investment advisory firm Cornerstone Capital Group revealed that nearly half of all retail workers in the U.S. face job insecurity as use of automation technology continues to rise across the country. According to the report, around 16 million people in the U.S. work in the retail industry. This equates to about one in 10 American employees, the 56-page report showed.
However, the advent of automation technology could lead to roughly six to 7.5 million retail workers losing their jobs in the coming years. This puts them at risk of becoming stranded workers, the researchers said. According to the report, retail cashiers were projected to suffer the most number of job losses. Nearly a quarter of retail cashiers are women, the researchers noted. The report also stressed that the job losses will significantly impact the working poor, as most retail workers paid on an hourly basis live below the poverty line.
"This in-depth examination of retail automation gives investors insights as they consider investment risks and opportunities. While the findings are important to investors, they should sound the alarm for economists and political leaders. The shrinking of retail jobs in many ways threatens to mirror the decline in manufacturing in the US. Moreover, in this case, workers at risk are already disproportionately working poor, so any disruption may cause strains in the social safety net and stresses on local tax revenues," Jon Lukomnik said in BusinessInsider.com. Lukomnik currently serves as the Executive Director of the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute, which commissioned the research.
Retail workers already face uncertain future
The report also revealed that the retail industry is currently experiencing massive store closures not seen since the recession, which further placed retail workers at risk of losing their jobs. According to the report, retailers have suffered more than 3,400 store closures so far this year. Credit Suisse analysts estimated that store closures may increase to more than 8,600 before the end of the year. In comparison, more than 6,000 store closures were recorded in 2008, marking the worst year for the retail industry to date.
According to the report, the retail industry generally pays low wages, but hires people in every age bracket. The industry was also found to hire low-skilled workers and those who need flexible working schedules. The report cautioned that job loss will make it difficult for these workers to find another employment. The researchers noted that technologies such as robots and smart device apps were among the technologies that disrupted retail employment.