Self-Driving Trucks Threaten Jobs, Especially for Minorities


Autonomous trucks threaten the livelihoods of millions of truckers across the country. But job losses are expected to hit African American and Latino drivers particularly hard, according to published reports.

 “[T]ruck driving is potentially an industry where rapid automation may lead some workers, disproportionately black and Hispanic men, to face displacement and its associated costs,” EPI states. “Policymakers need to be prepared to mitigate the harmful effects on the workers affected by such displacement.”

But that simply hasn’t been the case, even as dozens of companies accelerate their efforts to enter the automated trucking field. Putting the significant safety concerns aside, one study shows that four millions jobs will likely be lost if a rapid transition is made to automate the industry. That would be devastating in this well-paying field where more than 93 percent of the workers have less than a college degree and would likely incur significant challenges in getting work at a similar wage.

African-American (4.2 percent) and Latino (3.2 percent) workers are overrepresented in trucking, thus any such cuts would hit them particularly hard. For these groups, the median annual wage in driving occupations exceeds that of non-driving occupations: a “driving premium.” The largest difference is for Hispanic workers. For Hispanics, driving jobs have a median annual wage that is more than $5,800 higher in real wages than for non-driving jobs. Blacks have the second largest discrepancy. For blacks, driving jobs pay nearly $2,500 more than non-driving jobs.

it is necessary to make certain that there is an adequate safety net, job-placement services, educational and training opportunities, and new jobs that can support these workers if they need to transition to new employment. But for now, there is no sign that is happening. That is what is needed to absorb a shock from autonomous-vehicle technology, as well as ensure that autonomous-vehicle technology is safe and reliable.

The Teamsters have been arguing all those points to Capitol Hill lawmakers for years. During a congressional roundtable last year, this union argued that better public policy can help protect jobs and talked about the Teamsters’ engagement in voicing concerns with any automation that doesn’t serve to enhance workers’ jobs.

That hasn’t changed, and it won’t change. Good jobs are paramount!