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S-DEL and SIEPR to Evaluate the Future of Work in California

July 19, 2021
4 min read

Automation is on the rise. The nature of work is rapidly changing. And businesses and California policymakers are dealing with a growing set of challenges and opportunities presented by the state’s evolving workforce and job market.

The Stanford Digital Economy Lab (S-DEL) and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) are embarking on research that will help evaluate how artificial intelligence and machine learning will impact the future of work in California for the next century. The project begins this summer and will be led by S-DEL Director Erik Brynjolfsson and SIEPR Director Mark Duggan.  

The work will be performed in collaboration with California 100, an initiative to envision and shape the long-term success of the state. Incubated at the University of California and Stanford University, the California 100 initiative will focus on creating policy recommendations to ensure the state’s sustainability, innovation, and equity for the next century. 

“The vision of the California 100 initiative aligns perfectly with the Lab’s vision of building a technology-driven economy that benefits everyone,” said Brynjolfsson. “We look forward to being a part of a project that helps companies and workers in California take on the challenges and opportunities posed by digitization and automation.”

Stanford researchers will develop a Future of Work Dashboard that draws on S-DEL’s data and insights to illustrate the transformation of jobs throughout California. The dashboard will sample a range of occupations across different regions, wage levels, education levels, and skill bundles to assess the resilience of each job to automation. The data will also highlight the most valuable skills in each occupation, suggest adjacent lines of work, and provide a comprehensive outlook for each position.

Future of Work Dashboard

The Future of Work Dashboard will utilize data from ongoing Stanford Digital Economy Lab research, including the following research areas and projects.

Outline of head/AI

Suitability for Machine Learning Rubric

The Suitability for Machine Learning (SML) Rubric project offers a theoretical framework for how occupations will change and predicts which occupations are exposed to advances in machine learning and robotics methods.

Wooden blocks connecting people

Job2Vec

Using data from 200 million online job postings, S-DEL is training a natural language processing model to learn the language of jobs.

Warehouse worker in mask

Economic and Productivity Impacts of COVID-19

SDEL’s research team is examining how businesses and workers are adapting to COVID-19 measures, such as lockdowns and remote working, brought on by the pandemic.

Researchers will address issues tied to tax policy and minimum wage and their impact on innovation and automation. “Rigorous, data-driven research is the foundation for creating good economic policy,” Duggan said. “Our work at SIEPR has long informed policy decisions at the local, state, and federal levels, and this is an opportunity for us to make important contributions to California’s economic future.”

Stanford’s research and insights will inform a broad set of policy recommendations that will be developed in conjunction with research from other universities and research institutions. The research will be completed in December 2021.

Follow us on Twitter for updates about the California 100 initiative, as well as other S-DEL research projects. 

Future of Work in California report cover

A New Social Compact for Workers in California


A March 2021 report released by the Future of Work Commission detailed what must be done to ensure inclusive and long-term economic growth in California. The Commission, which included Stanford HAI co-director Fei-Fei Li and HAI advisors Mary Kay Henry and James Manyika, devoted 18 months to meeting and listening to workers, employers, researchers, and other members of civil society to understand the current state and future of work and workers in California.

“We look forward to being a part of a project that helps companies and workers in California take on the challenges and opportunities posed by digitization and automation.”

ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON
Director, Stanford Digital Economy Lab

Stanford University