More than 40% of labor force to be affected by AI in 3 years, Morgan Stanley forecasts

An artificial intelligence sign is seen at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on July 6, 2023.

Aly Song | Reuters

The growth of artificial intelligence soon could have some big implications for the labor market, according to Morgan Stanley.

Analyst Brian Nowak estimates that the AI technology will have a $4.1 trillion economic effect on the labor force — or affect about 44% of labor — over the next few years by changing input costs, automating tasks and shifting the ways companies obtain, process and analyze information. Today, Morgan Stanley pegs the AI effect at $2.1 trillion, affecting 25% of labor.

“We see generative AI expanding the scope of business processes that can be automated,” he wrote in a Sunday note. “At the same time, the input costs supporting GenAI functionality are rapidly falling, enabling a strongly expansionary impact to software production. As a result, Generative AI is set to impact the labor markets, expand the enterprise software TAM, and drive incremental spend for Public Cloud services.”

The projections from Morgan Stanley come amid a stellar run for AI-related stocks in 2023. While some related technology stocks have pulled back in recent weeks, many investors remain bullish on the outlook for the sector over the long run.

Morgan Stanley sees some positive tailwinds for software companies as a result of AI adoption, estimating that software vendors could scoop up 5% of the $4.1 trillion labor effect, or a total addressable market of $205 billion over the next three years.

Should generative AI adoption among enterprise workloads hit 20% over the next three years, it poses a $150 billion global enterprise spending opportunity, Morgan Stanley projects.

“AI capabilities, software take rates, and enterprise adoption are the key variables that impact our spending forecast,” Nowak said.