How Americans feel about AI’s role in their careers and in K-12 schooling

Jamie BallardData Journalist
April 24, 2024, 3:10 PM GMT+0

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to be a topic that Americans feel cautious about, according to data from YouGov. Recent surveys asked about the impact that AI is having or will have on different industries. The data finds that many American workers are concerned about the possibility of AI eliminating their jobs. Most also believe that K-12 schools should begin incorporating AI usage skills into the curriculum in order to prepare students for careers.

35% of full-time and part-time workers are very or somewhat concerned that AI advances may result in them losing their job or having their hours or salaries cut. Among the workers who ever use AI tools at work —- which is 42% of workers — 46% are worried about AI taking their job or reducing their hours. Among those who never use AI tools at work, 26% are concerned about this.

Among U.S. adults who are employed full-time or part-time, 43% think that AI will decrease the number of available jobs in their industry — a figure that’s risen by 9 percentage points since the question was last asked in June 2023. Fewer American workers think that AI advances will increase (13%) the number of available jobs or have no effect (31%).

The role that AI will play in the labor force is still being determined, but most Americans think AI will increase automation of routine tasks (56%). Many also think AI will increase workplace monitoring of employees (51%), business profits (49%), and productivity (43%).

Most think AI will decrease job opportunities (56%) and workers’ hours (55%). Half (51%) think it will decrease workers’ pay, 38% think it will decrease worker satisfaction, and 38% think it will decrease operating costs.

Majorities of Americans believe that AI is going to have some impact — positive or negative — on all 15 aspects of business included in the survey. Relatively few (12%-23%) said that AI would have no effect.

When asked about how AI has already impacted specific sectors, 50% of Americans say AI has had a very or somewhat negative impact on politics. 44% think it has had a negative impact on the media industry.

Industries in which Americans believe AI has had a more positive than negative impact include manufacturing (40% say it’s had a positive impact, 20% say it’s had a negative impact) health care (39% positive; 23% negative), and transportation (32% positive, 21% negative).

While concern about the effects of AI may be significant, very few Americans say they have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced because of AI at this point.

As of March 2024, only 3% of Americans say they have personally experienced job loss or a reduction in hours or salary because of AI advances. Very few know of anyone else who has experienced this, with 4% who say this has happened to a friend, 3% who say it has happened to a family member, 1% who say it’s happened to a colleague, and 2% who say it’s happened to an acquaintance. 77% of Americans say they do not know anyone (including themselves) who have lost a job or had hours/salary cuts because of AI.

Many Americans feel that AI skills should be incorporated into K-12 education. 21% feel it's very necessary for K-12 students to learn AI-related skills for their future careers; this figure rises to 29% among people who are parents or guardians of children under 18.

Roughly half of Americans (52%) think schools should focus on teaching students how to appropriately use AI, rather than focus on preventing students from using AI (21%). Among people who are parents of children under 18, 60% think schools should focus on appropriate usage and 20% think they should focus on preventing usage.

— Taylor Orth and Carl Bialik contributed to this article


See the results for these YouGov polls on March 15 - 18, 2024 and March 14 - 18, 2024.

Methodology: The YouGov polls were conducted online on March 15 - 18, 2024 and March 14 - 18, 2024, with each survey taken by 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

Image: Getty