[This post is slightly outside of the central focus of the blog – secondary effects on city development and design – but the issue of labor shifts due to the rise of autonomous vehicles is both important in itself and we believe could be a rallying cry to raise awareness of the effects of new technologies on cities. Concerns about labor need to be addressed and can help raise the visibility of concerns about changes in land use, design and development.]
A recent report titled ‘Stick Shift’ by the Center for Global Policy Solutions is one of the first comprehensive attempts to address the widespread effects of automated vehicles on the labor market. In line with many early predictions, AVs will lead to large shifts including a loss of more than four million jobs. While troubling in itself, this is compounded by the fact that these are jobs that are currently giving a wide swath of the population with low levels of education an alternative with decent pay that is keeping families out of poverty. This is especially troubling for minority populations “who are overrepresented in these occupations and who earn a ‘driving premium’—a median annual wage exceeding what they would receive in non-driving occupations” (given their level of education).
There is also a political dimension to this issue as “The top five states with the greatest percentage of workers in driving jobs in rank order are Mississippi (3.70 percent), Wyoming (3.64 percent), West Virginia (3.60), Idaho (3.45 percent), and North Dakota (3.44 percent).” How this type of change plays out in light of our current national narrative on work is difficult to predict, but would seem to only exacerbate current red state/blue state tensions.
The report ends with a series of policy recommendations that are necessary but also difficult to imagine in the current political climate. This collision of new technologies and real world pain and disruption in the labor market will somehow, however, need to be addressed.