Technology’s Impact on Perception of Economic Opportunities: A Matter of Education

Polling firm PSB and research by Burson-Marsteller reveal significant attachment between Americans vision of economic potential and their education level. Many less educated individuals view the technological disruption as a setback – more and more competition fighting for a shrinking labor demand and fear of their skills to be considered obsolete.
The study found that there is a notable partition in perception between Americans who have attained a high school degree or less and those with a college diploma or more. While this idea might seem intuitive, this differentiation had a larger impact on perception than household income, geography, and political-party affiliation.
Integrale Advisors CEO Keith Knutsson commented, “This sentiment has been relatively prevalent for a couple of years now, but putting actual numbers behind these ideas and revealing it as a number one factor is rather astonishing.”
The research revealed that 58 percent of Americans who completed a high-school diploma indicated that they believe not to possess the right skills to succeed in the modern age. This number differs significantly from the 39 percent of college educated Americans who state the same. Out of the remaining individuals, 27 percent of Americans with a high-school diploma (or less) do not know whether they possess the skills; this belief is only represented by 15 percent of college educated Americans.
These attitudes reveal a connection behind the long-documented pessimistic views regarding the economic future of the US. Education levels have a positive correlation to positive emotional sentiment of economic future. Less-educated respondents differed from college-educated individuals in their considerations of industry job growth: the retail industry was three times as likely to be listed as a job creator than by the college-educated group, who overwhelmingly listed high tech as the future job creator.
There is some consistency among the two groups in regards to views regarding preparations for a world with automation and advanced manufacturing. Agreement exists with factors such as preparing the workforce, working together, and assigning a substantial role to the public and private sector to promote economic growth.