Autonomous vehicles won’t only kill jobs. They will create them too

In 2015, some 15.5 million workers in the U.S. worked in jobs related to driving, according to an August 2017 report from the Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration.

Only 3.8 million of those workers operate motor vehicles such as a truck or taxi. Among those workers, truck drivers are more vulnerable to automation because they drive mainly on highways, and that type of navigation is easier to automate than negotiating city streets. The remaining 11.7 million, who drive as part of job positions such as mail carriers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, are likely to benefit from new technology.

The average motor vehicle operator is male and older, with less education and pay than the typical worker, according to the Economics and Statistics Administration report.

Still, it is one of few jobs where a worker can make more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour without a college education. The 2017 median pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $20.42 per hour, which adds up to $42,480 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median household income for all households in the United States was $57,617 in 2016, according to the American Community Survey.

It is estimated that autonomous cars could eliminate 300,000 driving jobs a year, according to a May 2017 report from Goldman Sachs. But that won’t happen right away; the report estimated that from 2025 to 2030, autonomous cars will be 20 percent of car sales.

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