Artificial intelligence, automation and other technological changes are among the biggest economic issues of our age. They featured in the opening remarks of the Chancellor’s 2017 Autumn Budget speech and are identified as one of the ‘Grand Challenges’ in the Government’s Industrial Strategy. Politically, the continued fallout from the 2016 EU referendum and ever-increasing globalisation continue to dominate and divide urban Britain.
As well as providing the definitive economic health check of the 63 largest urban areas in the UK, this year’s Cities Outlook 2018 gives a picture of urban Britain today – exploring the economic and political divides across the country and how they relate. It then looks at what the future holds in store for cities, by discussing the potential impact that automation could bring on city economies – and whether or not these divides will be compounded.
By looking at the types of jobs currently available in cities and at those occupations predicted to grow as developed in Nesta’s recent report ‘The future of skills: employment in 2030‘, Cities Outlook 2018 maps out which cities are most at risk of losing jobs to automation, and which cities are less vulnerable to these changes. It finds that it is those cities with relatively weak economies in the North that are vulnerable to job losses, with cities in the South at relatively less risk. Significantly, it also finds that it is the same cities which are most at risk which also voted to leave the EU and are more dependent on welfare.
Yet, despite scare stories and the likelihood of job losses, the report finds that all cities are likely to see an increase in jobs across both the public and private sectors – thus replacing any jobs lost to new technology. Similarly, it finds that such changes are not new and cities have been exposed to automation and globalisation for over a century and almost all of them have seen jobs growth since 1911.
Use our Data Tool to explore the latest city-by-city data from Cities Outlook 2018Go to the Data Tool
This year Cities Outlook finds that the economic divides that currently exist between cities in the Greater South East and those outside of that region are likely to become more stark in the years to come as more jobs are at risk of being lost outside the South, and lower-wage, relatively less productive lower skilled jobs will likely continue to dominate in these cities. It finds: