New Report Finds Benefits of AV Deployment Far Outweigh Costs to Workforce

New Report Finds Benefits of AV Deployment Far Outweigh Costs to Workforce

June 15, 2018  | Alexander Laska

June 13, 2018

The economic and social benefits of widespread deployment of automated vehicles (AVs) will far outweigh the costs in labor displacement and lost wages, according to new research commissioned by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE).

Their policy brief, “America’s Workforce and the Self-Driving Future: Realizing Productivity Gains and Spurring Economic Growth” (pdf available here), found that when measured in economic terms, the benefits offered by AVs in a single year of widespread deployment could be far greater than the total cost to workers over the next 35 years combined.

The authors’ modeling of several possible deployment scenarios found that widespread deployment could lead to nearly $800 billion in annual social and economic benefits by 2050, including by:

  • Reducing the toll of vehicle crashes (The model assumed conservatively that AVs would only address crashes resulting from a “gross driver error,” such as distraction, alcohol, or speeding);
  • Giving productive time back to commuters, by reducing congestion through fewer crashes and reduced bottlenecking;
  • Improving energy security by reducing U.S. dependence on oil and the resulting environmental externalities of a cleaner fuel supply;
  • Improving access to retail and jobs: The report found that increased willingness of shoppers to travel as little as two additional minutes could increase a mall’s customer base by as much as 50 percent in some cases; and
  • Improving access to large job markets for some economically depressed regions.

As for the costs, the report highlighted unemployment and wage losses. On unemployment, the report said the impact would be felt starting in the early 2030s and would increase the national unemployment rate by .06 to .13 percentage points at the “peak impact” in 2045-2050, before a return to full employment as worker skill requirements evolve and new jobs replace those eliminated by automation.

The report compared that peak impact to the Great Recession, which saw a peak impact of 4.9 percent in 2010, and to the recession of the early 2000s, which saw a peak impact of 1.3 percent in 2003.

On wage losses, SAFE’s scenarios found a range of projected wage losses reaching as high as $18 billion in 2044 and 2045. But as the report pointed out, those same years would see over $700 billion in projected benefits for each of those years.

The report cautioned that most labor impacts associated with automated vehicles would be tied to the adoption of high automation in trucking rather than automated cars, as there are far more professionally employed truck drivers than there are car drivers. Partial automation or tele-operation of trucks, however, would not likely have a significant negative impact on the workforce.

The authors suggested that the economic gains of widespread AV deployment could be used to invest in resources to help those affected by it (i.e. displaced workers). The report promoted a two-pronged strategy of pursuing the rapid deployment of AVs in order to maximize the benefits, while investing in workforce policies that mitigate the associated cost to workers.

The report’s policy recommendations included:

  • Don’t focus labor market policy solely on AVs and their impacts, as they are just one of many challenges that will be faced by workers;
  • Consider a broad range of policies, as workers in different regions will have different needs;
  • Strengthen existing workforce development institutions, including American Job Centers and unemployment insurance;
  • Continually evaluate policies and programs for impact and efficacy; and
  • Identify areas for additional study, such as the productivity benefits from reduced driving times and the labor market impact of other implementation options for AVs.

Read the full report here.

Share

Related Articles

Op-Ed: Why Automated Driving Faces a Monster Uphill Battle

Op-Ed: Why Automated Driving Faces a Monster Uphill Battle

My three-year-old daughter takes her friend’s power wheels car for a first-time spin. I briefly show her how to turn the steering wheel...

Are federal AV investigations a first step toward federal regulation? Not necessarily, experts say

Are federal AV investigations a first step toward federal regulation? Not necessarily, experts say

"There hasn't been a lot of concrete regulation. The federal government has been largely permissive, and there are very few regulatory...

Webinar: The New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Emerging Transportation Technologies

Webinar: The New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Emerging Transportation Technologies

New transportation technologies are coming online faster than ever. While many of these emerging technologies are helping to expand our...

Congressional Hearing Discusses Promises and Perils of Automated Vehicles

Congressional Hearing Discusses Promises and Perils of Automated Vehicles

On May 18, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held a hearing on "Promises and...

Guest Op-Ed: The Current State of Public Policy for Autonomous Trucking

Guest Op-Ed: The Current State of Public Policy for Autonomous Trucking

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has long advocated for the benefits autonomous vehicles can bring to the nation’s...

Senate Commerce Looks at AV Development, but Pulls Bill from Schedule

Senate Commerce Looks at AV Development, but Pulls Bill from Schedule

This week, a Senate committee hearing looked at autonomous vehicle (AV) safety regulation, but the committee then postponed debate on AV...

Research on Low Speed Automated Vehicles Demonstrates Their Limitations and Potential

Research on Low Speed Automated Vehicles Demonstrates Their Limitations and Potential

During the final week of the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting, the Transit Cooperative Research Program released...

Webinar: How Automated Delivery Could Shape the Future of Local Commerce

Webinar: How Automated Delivery Could Shape the Future of Local Commerce

COVID-19 has highlighted both the value of home delivery and contactless service. Automated vehicles (AV) could potentially enable both....

Guest Op-Ed: It Turns Out, Humans Are Pretty Smart: Developing Self-Driving Cars Is Harder Than We Thought

Guest Op-Ed: It Turns Out, Humans Are Pretty Smart: Developing Self-Driving Cars Is Harder Than We Thought

Self-driving cars. We’ve been promised for years they were “coming soon.” Most estimates a decade ago thought self-driving cars would...

Webinar: Automated Vehicle Technology, Public Policy, and BMW's Level 3 AV System

Webinar: Automated Vehicle Technology, Public Policy, and BMW's Level 3 AV System

While much of the transportation-related news has been focused on COVID-19 recovery, automated vehicle technologies are quietly progressing...

New Automated Vehicle Safety Self-Assessment from BMW Reveals AV Technology Progress, Policy Gaps

New Automated Vehicle Safety Self-Assessment from BMW Reveals AV Technology Progress, Policy Gaps

Last week BMW quietly released a new Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment (VSSA), which was posted to the National Highway Traffic Safety...

House Tees Up Revamp of an Automated Vehicle Bill

House Tees Up Revamp of an Automated Vehicle Bill

On Tuesday, February 11, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce held a hearing on...

Be Part of the Conversation
Sign up to receive news, events, publications, and course notifications.
No thanks