Obama Adminstration Says 80 to 100% Of Truck Drivers Will Lose Their Jobs Due To Automation

Earlier this year, self-driving semi truck startup ‘Otto’ delivered its first successful commercial load. The success of the trip, coupled with the rapid advancement of technology, could spell the end of the trucking industry as we know it, according to a new White House report.

On Thursday, the Executive Office of the President published a report on the effects of automation and artificial intelligence in the labor markets. The report states that professional drivers, such as truck, bus, and taxi drivers will suffer job losses in the millions.

According to the report, school bus drivers will be the least affected group of drivers, with a 30 to 40% work force reduction. Light truck or delivery drivers are expected to lose 20 to 60% of their jobs.

The most significant losses are expected among heavy duty tractor trailer drivers, where 80 to 100% of drivers are expected to lose jobs due to automation. The report claims that 1,342,620 to 1,678,280 jobs will be lost due to advancement in technology.

The steep loss in trucking jobs is attributed to the “wage premium” that truckers currently enjoy versus other laborers of similar education levels

“CEA analysis finds that a share of workers in a few isolated occupations—truck drivers and delivery service drivers, in particular— currently enjoy a wage premium over others in the labor market with the same level of educational attainment. They may not be able to regain this wage premium if displaced without intervention to help them re-skill.”

The chart below indicates expected job losses in various driving professions.

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The report calls for continued education and training in new fields of work that will become available due to shifts in the labor market. Specifically, it highlights the needs for workers that are able to develop and manage the new technology.

“The rapid growth of AI has dramatically increased the need for people with relevant skills to support and advance the field. The AI workforce includes AI researchers who drive fundamental advances in AI and related fields, a larger number of specialists who refine AI methods for specific applications, and a great number of users who operate those applications in specific settings.”

In addition, the report explains that the rise of automation will widen the wealth and income disparity in the country, with the vast majority of economic benefits going to the owners of firms that are able to replace human labor with robots.

“AI-driven technological change could lead to even larger disparities in income between capital owners and labor. For example, Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue that current trends in the labor market, such as declining wages in the face of rising productivity, are indicative of a more drastic change in the distribution of economic benefits to come. Rather than everyone receiving at least some of the benefit, the vast majority of that value will go to a very small portion of the population.”

The Obama Administration says that government safety net programs such as as unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), must be strengthened to deal with the dislocation of workers due to automation.

You can read the full White House report here.