Automation will make many people jobless in five to 10 years and needing a subsidy to live on, an economist said today in Findlay.

The reality is that 40 percent of the U.S. is low-skill workers and those folks are not going to have jobs in the future, said Jim Robey, director of Regional Economic Planning Services for the W.E. Upjohn Institute, Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was part of a panel discussing for executives the impact of rising automation.

Low-skill jobs in manufacturing and service sectors will be vanishing rapidly.

In five to 10 years from now, were going to be having a labor surplus, he said.

Its a troubling prediction: More workers than jobs left to be filled by them.

Its just a concern that with automation across both goods-producing and services, will we get so efficient that we dont need all the workers we have? Robey said after speaking on a panel about automation.

It all raises difficult questions. What will surplus, unneeded workers do to get by financially?

Youve heard Bill Gates and others talk about universal basic income and other things. Will we get to a point that we have to subsidize people to simply live? Robey asked rhetorically.

Under a system of universal basic income, all citizens of a country are entitled to an unconditional amount of money on top of income they already generate through other means.

In reality, for a quality of life (citizens) have to have more than just a subsidy. They have to have affordable level of income, Robey said.

More difficult questions.

How do we pay for that?

The rise of automation also will challenge many small to medium-size businesses, said Robey and Tom Ballay, president of Autotec Engineering, Toledo.

They dont have the people in their workforce that know how to prepare them and its a really big deal, Ballay said.

Small and medium-size businesses will have difficulty affording new technology necessary to compete, Robey said.

The panel discussion was sponsored by Gilmore Jasion Mahler public accounting firm.