The ECB has published a study suggesting that AI currently has a limited impact on workers’ wages and job security.
The ECB’s study stated that AI developments were found to have impacted nearly every industry, including advancements in unsupervised learning, image and text generation, and language translation.
However, despite its general purpose, so far AI has had limited negative impacts on either human employment or wages, demonstrating that jobs that are exposed to AI have not yet been affected.
The research estimated that around 25% of jobs in Europe are in occupations that are exposed to AI-automation but stated that the outcome of these jobs will be dependent on whether future AI will be able to replace human workers completely.
The jobs that were disproportionately affected required candidates with higher education degrees, but workers of all ages were affected equitably.
The ECB did warn that jobs facing possible AI automation may see worse wage progression in the long term.
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Dr Fabian Stephany, a researcher and lecturer in AI and employment at the Oxford Internet Institute, spoke to Verdict about this research.
“It really depends crucially on where workers are on the technology frontier, meaning, where it is that AI starts substituting human skill,” Stephany explained. “If you are in front of this barrier, then you should be safe seeing an increase in demand and wages.”
Workers behind this frontier, he warned, could be racing against the machine.
Stephany cited a paper he was currently working on around the hiring of skilled workers in AI and the environment, in which he found that UK employers had switched to skills-based hiring practices rather than focusing on formal education qualifications.
His paper concludes that the educational premium (offering higher wages for higher levels of certification) may have disappeared entirely.
In his previous research at the Oxford Internet Institute, Stephany found that AI skills may increase worker wages by 40% when combined with other high value tech skills.
In a 2023 survey, research analysis company GlobalData found that 50% of businesses across sectors stated that AI was considered the most disruptive technology to their work that year. In GlobalData’s executive briefing on AI, the company found that AI had been consistently voted the most disruptive technology by businesses since 2021.