General Motors Restructuring (copy)

A new study from McKinsey & Co. found that African American workers are overrepresented in jobs that could be replaced by automation over the next decade. File/AP Photo/Paul Sancya

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The one to watch

Automation is expected to substantially change the U.S. employment outlook, and African American workers are likely to be disproportionately affected, according to a new report from the McKinsey & Co. 

By 2030, the report's authors concluded, the employment outlook for African Americans "may worsen dramatically," particularly for young men without a college degree. 

The predicted disparity was observed through several insights:

  • African Americans are underrepresented in jobs with low displacement rates and over-represented in those with high projected displacement. 
  • Many of the highest-growth areas of the U.S. have lower concentrations of American American workers. 
  • African American employment is concentrated in lower-paying jobs.

While a majority of U.S. workers are employed in directive roles — that includes management, technical and sales jobs — the largest share of African Americans in the workforce are in support roles, including jobs as administrative support workers, laborers and service workers. 

Even before factoring in automation, those categories reflect a disparity. Support roles have a median annual income of about $32,000 and directive roles average at almost $69,000 a year. 

A significantly higher percentage of time on the job can be automatized in supportive roles, 53 percent compared to 31 percent in directive roles, amounting to about 459,000 more jobs that be eliminated by automation. 

In the Charleston area, the report's authors said the three jobs projected to have the highest displacement of African American workers are food preparation and fast food workers, cashiers, and janitors and cleaners. 

In more than 200 counties, mostly in the Southeast and the Midwest, the report found that the decline in African American job growth may be happening at the same time that jobs are increasing for white employees. 

But in some U.S. counties, particularly in areas classified as "distressed Americana," the potential job losses from automation are relatively equal across all populations. In South Carolina, Orangeburg County was called out in the report as one of those areas. 

In counties like Orangeburg, the report said, large-scale economic development strategies should be pursued, including utilizing Opportunity Zone legislation, which provides financial incentives for developers to invest in underserved areas. (A statewide Opportunity Zone Summit is happening now in Greenville.)

The report did find that African American women may have a better outlook than men in terms of job displacement, largely due to increases in African American women moving into healthcare roles. 

Looking at automation and the workforce overall, an earlier McKinsey report predicted that Charleston, a "small powerhouse," would fare particularly well. But net job losses driven by automation where predicted in many of South Carolina's rural counties, like Georgetown and Abbeville


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Openings, closings:

  • Food Fight is serving ramen and Korean fried chicken on James Island. 
  • Site work has begun on a new Krispy Kreme shop in North Charleston
  • Seven S.C. Burger King locations could close as part of a bankruptcy filing.
  • That Big Book Sale is back Friday through Sunday in Mount Pleasant
  • Starbucks and Fuji Sushi opened at the Market at Mill Creek center. 
  • Tri-County Therapy opened a Ladson office on Commercial Center Drive.
  • Community nonprofit Summerville DREAM has moved to a new location.
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Other stuff you should know:

  • Clemson University's wind turbine project was intended to be a hub for SC's emerging wind industry. That hasn't happened. (Post and Courier)
  • After months of reviews, revisions and voting, Charleston officially adopted new rules for downtown hotel development this week. (Post and Courier)
  • MUSC will build a $15.3 million freestanding emergency facility on Johns Island with exam and trauma rooms and a helipad. (Post and Courier)
  • Juul Labs Inc., which is building an assembly facility in Lexington County, has reinvented the tobacco industry. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Sound smart at work:

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Danny McBride and Edi Patterson in "The Righteous Gemstones." Filmed in Charleston, the comedy series sought hundreds of local crew members, actors and extras to be a part of the production. File/Provided/HBO

"Hey boss did you know South Carolina sets aside about $15 million a year for film incentives?"

Rough House, a production company that was created by Danny McBride and is based in Charleston, is advocating to double that amount. The company filmed the HBO comedy "The Righteous Gemstones" and the hit "Halloween" remake in Charleston, but moved filming for "Halloween 2" to Wilmington, N.C. because of the limited film incentives in the Palmetto State. 

Memos, distinctions:

  • Post and Courier publisher P.J. Browning was named publisher of the year by Editor & Publisher, a magazine for the newspaper industry. 

  • On the heels of his MacArthur "Genius Grant" winWalter Hood,landscape architect for Charleston's International African American Museum, won the Gish Prize for contributions to art and social change.

  • Charleston criminal defense attorney Christopher Adams is president-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  

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Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.