The labor market is strong. Very strong, with a 3.5% unemployment rate. However, for a select few, the surplus elites, their chances for employment are dwindling, especially with AI’s democratization becoming more prominent daily in the business world.

What Is A Surplus Elite?

Surplus elites, typically employees in the white-collar world, are highly skilled and educated and fall in the excess supply category in the technology sector due to changes in the global economy, automation, and technological advances, particularly around AI

In the US, roughly 37.9% of people 25 or older (52.8 million) have a bachelor’s degree, while 32.2 million hold a master’s degree or higher. During the pandemic, these surplus elites were giving their employers fits with their work-from-home mandates, quiet quitting work ethic, and the push for diversity hires at all costs mentality. Now, with inflation, rising interest rates, and the era of cheap VC money over, these once untouchable, white-collar workers have to prove that they are assets, not liabilities, to their employers instead of constantly pontificating about the latest slights to their delicate sensibilities about their mistreatment in the business world stemming from their political leanings.

Opinions About The Surplus Elites

While white-collar workers are getting pink slips, blue-collar industries face tremendous labor shortages. On the other side, the manufacturing, retail, and hospitality sectors are experiencing wages rising faster than their white-collar brethren.

They don’t always have a favorable image in society. David Sachs, founding COO of PayPal, states in an interview that “workers who have coasted on a wave of diversity hiring are now being asked to prove their worth.” Professor of Marketing Scott Galloway says in his blog, “working from home decreased the chances of getting a promotion by 12%, and 38% are less likely to receive a bonus. Comedian Bill Maher gets into the fray on a recent episode, discussing how AI can do everything these “bullshit” majors of journalism, sociology, liberal arts, general studies, and communications can do, especially with the rise of ChatGPT.

Is AI Coming For The White Collar Jobs?

The AI industry is snowballing and is having an impact on the white-collar job market. These workers are in danger because AI can automate their jobs and skills. ChatGPT is striking fear in the hearts of marketing, content, and journalism professionals. In the legal field, AI systems can review documents and analyze contracts quickly, efficiently, and at a fraction of the cost of a paralegal. Likewise, in finance, AI can automate data analysis and fraud detection tasks that were once the responsibility of junior associates. 

The shift to white-collar automation is here. Thanks to the snowball effects of rising interest rates, companies are on a mission to reduce expenses and improve efficiencies. AI systems can perform better and faster than human workers, who require breaks, benefits, and high salaries. Additionally, as AI platforms get more intelligent over time, they significantly outdo their human counterparts.

What’s Next For The Surplus Elites?

It’s not a foregone conclusion that AI will replace all. AI platforms don’t operate on their own. It’ll require human intervention to make it work properly with correct data. 

For those white-collar employees that survive the onslaught of layoffs, this is an opportunity for them to acquire new skills, particularly around AI technologies. One thing is for sure; AI will be here to stay. For a moment, during the Covid labor uprising, the power was in the hands of the employees; now, it’s back to the employers.