AI may be greater threat to wages than jobs, European study finds

Fears that AI could replace humans in the workplace may be 'greatly exaggerated,' European Central Bank finds in study

The rapid emergence of AI technology has fueled fears that people could lose their jobs to a deep learning machine that can perform their tasks more efficiently. However, new research suggests that so far, AI is actually creating jobs, though it may have a negative effect on wages. 

A paper published by the European Central Bank (ECB) on Tuesday found that during the deep learning boom of the 2010s, opportunities for younger and high-skilled workers actually increased rather than vanished. 

The ECB warns its findings "do not amount to an acquittal," but suggests that fears of AI ending human labor "may be greatly exaggerated." 

The study examined the link between AI-enabled technologies and employment shares in a sample of 16 European countries from 2011-2019. During this period, breakthroughs in language processing, image recognition, algorithm-based recommendations and fraud detection triggered a technological revolution that will only accelerate with the recent development of generative AI models like OpenAI's ChatGPT. 


Chat GPT from OpenAI

Photo illustration showing ChatGPT and OpenAI research laboratory logo and inscription on a mobile phone smartphone screen with a blurry background. ChatGPT is an artificial-intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched in November 2022 using (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

In the 16 European countries studied, the employment share of sectors exposed to AI increased, with low- and medium-skill jobs largely unaffected and highly-skilled positions getting the biggest boost, the ECB said.

However, researchers also found "neutral to slightly negative impacts" on wage growth for occupations more exposed to AI. 


Creative image of an artificial intelligence logo

An artificial intelligence logo on a circuit board. As many as two-thirds of Americans believe that artificial intelligence could one day take over their jobs. (iStock / iStock)

"These results do not amount to an acquittal," the paper said. "AI-enabled technologies continue to be developed and adopted. Most of their impact on employment and wages – and therefore on growth and equality – has yet to be seen."

The findings were in contrast to previous "technology waves," it said, when computerization decreased "the relative share of employment of medium-skilled workers, resulting in "polarization."


Though not conclusive, the study could bring hope to American workers who believe that AI may one day replace humans in their careers.

A recent survey conducted by Spokeo found that despite seeing the potential benefits of AI, 66.6% of the 1,027 respondents admitted AI could carry out their workplace duties, and 74.8% said they were concerned about the technology's impact on their industry as a whole.


The poll also found U.S. workers are optimistic about what AI could mean for the future of work, with 78.1% saying they believe the technology could reduce some of the stresses on the job, and 76.7% saying they think AI will reduce the number of working days in the week for the average American.

The vast majority of those surveyed, 79.1%, said they think employers should offer training for ChatGPT and other AI tools.

Fox Business' Breck Dumas and Reuters contributed to this report.