Close to half of Americans say automation could easily replace their jobs, according to an American Staffing Association survey.

Younger workers and Blacks and Hispanics consider themselves most exposed, while Baby Boomers and White Americans are less concerned, based on the survey, which was conducted on behalf of the association by the Harris Poll.

The recent rapid development of generative artificial intelligence has extended the potential for automation of many more on-the-job tasks. One-third of Americans are already using AI at work, the survey found.

The results were in stark contrast to those of a similar poll for the temporary staffing trade group in 2017. At that time, close to three-quarters of employed Americans did not believe their work could be easily replaced by robots or AI.

“In just a few short years, worker attitudes toward artificial intelligence have changed drastically,” said staffing association Chief Executive Officer Richard Wahlquist. “Workers used to see AI programs as something that could help human workers. Now, workers are concerned AI could be replacing them altogether.”

Some three-quarters of those polled expect increased use of automation and artificial intelligence to lead to higher joblessness, with women more inclined to see that than men.

Industrial workers were the ones who saw their jobs most likely to be replaced by automation, while health-care employees viewed themselves as the least exposed, according to the survey. A majority of Black and Hispanic workers considered their jobs at risk, compared with less than two in five of their white counterparts.

That said, most Americans believe the increased use of technology will generally be a good thing for workers, the poll found. They were evenly divided though on whether it would help or hurt their careers.

The online survey of more than 2,000 US adults was carried out from June 20-22. It has margin of error of 2.7%.

The American Staffing Association represents 1,700 temporary staffing and recruiting agencies in an industry with annual sales of more than $150 billion.  

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.