PORTLAND, Maine — Using the information collected in an Oxford University report, National Public Radio’s Planet Money team developed an online database of jobs and whether they could soon be performed by robots.

The link has made its way around social media, as people have — for humor or horror — sought to determine whether they might be replaced at the workplace by machines.

When matched up against the top 20 jobs in Maine, the results are scary. Fourteen of the top 20 jobs in Maine — in terms of numbers of workers — have a 50 percent or greater chance of being taken over by robots, the Oxford University researchers hypothesize. Ten of those have a likelihood of greater than 85 percent, including customer service representatives, which are considered 99 percent likely to be handed off to some kind of androids.

The top 20 jobs in Maine are performed by a total of approximately 198,020 of the state’s 582,430 employees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and USAWage.com, and include such professions as nurses, teachers and retail workers.

The program’s creators at NPR have acknowledged outright that “these estimates are rough and likely to be wrong,” characterizing the results as “a snapshot of what some smart people think the future might look like.”

Jobs such as mental health and substance abuse social workers are unlikely to be taken over by robots, the database developers said, because they “ranked high in cleverness, negotiation and helping others.” Telemarketers, in comparison, are already being replaced in many places by computers, the NPR team points out.

Of the top 20 professions in Maine, elementary school teachers are the least likely to be removed in favor of automatons, the report found, at just 0.4 percent. Other jobs deemed relatively safe from robots were those in the medical field, such as nurses and physicians assistants, who were determined to be just 14.5 percent likely to be taken over by C-3POs.

The following are the top 20 jobs in Maine, how many people perform them and the likelihood they will be taken over by robots in the future, according to the NPR/Oxford University research. Note: The job titles used in the NPR database in some cases didn’t match up exactly with those used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so the numbers below represent the best match available.

  1. Retail salesperson — 18,390 workers — 92.3 percent likely to be taken over by robots
  2. Cashier — 16,550 — 97.1 percent
  3. Registered nurses — 13,890 — 14.5 percent
  4. Office clerks — 11,590 — 86.5 percent
  5. Restaurant waiters — 10,970 — 93.7 percent
  6. General or operations managers — 10,950 — 6.9 percent
  7. Secretaries/administrative assistants — 10,770 — 86.5 percent
  8. Combined food preparers and servers (such as fast food franchise employees) — 10,110 — 93.7 percent
  9. Janitors and cleaners — 9,790 — 66.3 percent
  10. Nursing assistants — 9,480 — 14.5 percent
  11. Personal care aides — 9,280 — 38.5 percent
  12. Heavy equipment and tractor trailer truck drivers — 8,670 — 78.6 percent
  13. Customer service representatives — 8,330 — 99 percent
  14. Stock clerks and order filers — 8,200 — 98 percent
  15. Teacher assistants — 7,640 — 55.7 percent
  16. Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks — 7,240 — 97.6 percent
  17. Elementary school teachers — 6,880 — 0.4 percent
  18. Retail supervisors — 6,870 — 27.9 percent
  19. Food preparation workers — 6,270 — 96.3 percent
  20. Laborers and freight movers — 6,150 — 72.4 percent

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.