As self-driving cars become more of a mundane occurrence, concerns about how they will affect the job market by replacing bus, truck, and taxi drivers are growing at an exponential rate. Instead of focusing on the immediate downside, these concerns need to the put up next to the potential, long-term advantages such as cheaper transportation, increased safety and productivity, and clean air, according to a team of economists and transportation experts.
The report released last Tuesday, found that the annual economic payback from automated vehicles will be $800 billion by 2050. This includes the impact from reduced vehicle accidents ($503B), traffic congestion ($71B), and giving drivers more time to spend on doing something rather than being stuck in traffic ($63B). Because automated vehicles are in such an early stage of development, it is difficult to calculate the exact value, but the benefits definitely surpass the costs.
The report titled, “America’s Workforce and the Self-Driving Future,” advises the government to create an environment that will encourage companies to implement automated vehicles while at the same time, preparing the workforce for a smooth transition to jobs that call for new skills. The study states, “due to the large-scale societal benefits from the deployment of AVs, policies to address labor force issues must carefully consider their potential impact in delaying the deployment and thus the benefits of AVs. Delaying the deployment of AVs would represent a significant and deliberate injury to public welfare.” To lessen the impact to the current job market of vehicle drivers, the government needs to ensure that “the interests of the people who may lose jobs are well protected through effective mitigation programs.”
Regarding the employment concern, the reports states that by the early 2030s, employment rolls could decrease by –0.06 percent and would then increase to +0.13 percent by 2050. Automated vehicle benefits in just one year would outweigh the total job losses over those decades. According to the report, the positive impact on societal productivity and life quality would be so great that we would be able to afford the programs that would retrain displaced workers.
Automated vehicles will replace jobs, but they will also create new jobs for those displaced workers to move in to. The automated vehicle industry will need people to develop and manage the technology as well as fill other industry roles that haven’t been established yet but will be once automated cars become much more common.