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May 20: Economics IE

Madison Aument

With 91.9 KVCR News, I'm Madison Aument. This is Economics IE, where we talk to experts from the Inland Empire to help take the temperature of the region's economic situation. Today I'm speaking with Johannes Moenius, a professor for Global Business at the University of Redlands, and the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis. Thanks for being here today.

Johannes Moenius

Thank you for having me.

Madison Aument

Well, you've been looking at automation for a while now, what does the future of automation look like in the Inland Empire?

Johannes Moenius

That depends which perspective you take, if you're a technology perspective, then I think it looks very bright. From a workers perspective, that may be a bit more of a challenge. So we calculated the automation potential for the Inland Empire a couple of years back. And that was even before artificial intelligence came into play. And at that time, about 63% of all jobs in the Inland Empire could have been technically automated in the next 15, 20 years. So technical, automated, or automated ability doesn't mean that those jobs actually will go away. It just means that there's a potential for those jobs to be automated. We're still the metro area in California that has the highest automation potential.

Madison Aument

Why is that?

Johannes Moenius

It has to do with the types of jobs that are the most predominant in the Inland Empire. If you look at it by occupation, we have a lot of people that are in administrative jobs, we have a lot of people that are in the warehouses. And we have a lot of retail and leisure and hospitality jobs, and a lot of them can be automated, because they are repetitive in nature. Anything that's repetitive in nature, we've seen that in the manufacturing sector, can eventually be automated. So who in the Inland Empire will be most affected by automation? Definitely, the people with a lower educational level have the higher risk of being automated, or having their jobs being automated by the standard type of automation. If you look at warehouse jobs, if you look at the waiters job, if you look at retail jobs, a lot of them are highly repetitive. And since we have a lot of them, they're most likely going away and those who hold those jobs are people currently with lower educational levels. And so education, as a consequence, is still one of the best insurance policies that you can buy, in order to immunize yourself against automation.

Madison Aument

If education is the answer, how do we ensure that more people in this region, one, get that education and two, when they get it, they stay here?

Johannes Moenius

Number one is that we really educate people, first of all, and make it known that we highly as a society, we highly appreciate hard working attitudes. But in the long run, if we really as a society care, specifically about the young folks and their ability to thrive in the long run, and do well. And if you want to say like this, live the American dream, there is no way to do that, or the chances that you can do it are just so much lower without a solid educational base. So the number two is that we need to make it as accessible and as cheap as possible. So community colleges play a very important role, from my perspective, because it allows people to acquire the basic skills so that they can go to other institutions of higher education. We need to make sure that we can bring as many people as possible into the realm of university degrees. And how do we keep them here? Well, like I'm pretty sure most policymakers will not like to hear what I have to say right now. But I'll tell it anyway, because I've said it for so long. We need to keep this place as pristine as possible so that entrepreneurs are willing to settle here. We've done a great job, destroying the Inland Empire in terms of a livable place with plastering one warehouse next to the other with basically no employment opportunities anymore, where like a handful of people are working there right now. Give me a break. Why, why do we give all that away for now, although we have had all the change chances in the world to make that a wonderful place where entrepreneurs are willing to settle where they want to live with their families and where they will wanna build up the area? So the first order of business would be to make sure that we at least preserve what we have and not give anything else away anymore.

Madison Aument

Thank you for your time.

Johannes Moenius

It was my pleasure.

Madison Aument

Join us again next Monday for Economics IE. You can find this segment and others on our website at kvcrnews.org/econie. Support for this segment comes from the Nowak family. For KVCR News, I'm Madison Aument.