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