Self-driving vehicles have the potential to reshape a wide range of occupations held by roughly one in nine American workers, according to a new U.S. government report.
About 3.8 million people drive taxis, trucks, ambulances and other vehicles for a living. An additional 11.7 million workers drive as part of their work, including personal care aides, police officers, real-estate agents and plumbers. In all, that’s roughly 11.3% of total U.S. employment based on 2015 occupational data, according to the analysis by three Commerce Department economists.
“The traditional view has been that the license is just a barrier to entry,” said Clemson University economist Peter Blair, who co-authored the paper with Clemson graduate student Bobby Chung. But, he said in an interview, licenses also provide potential employers with information about the workers who have them: Many require special training or bar people with criminal records.
The study suggests women are rewarded because a license signals training and job skills, while black men benefit when a license signals they don’t have a felony conviction.
“Licensing may not be the most efficient way to convey this information, but we need to acknowledge that licensing is providing this information,” Mr. Blair said.
Now almost all of Wal-Mart’s 4,700 U.S. stores have a Cash360 machine, making thousands of positions obsolete. Most of the employees in those positions moved into store jobs to improve service, said a Wal-Mart spokesman. More than 500 have left the company. The store accountant displaced last August is now a greeter at the front door, where she still earns $13 an hour. “The role of service and customer-facing associates will always be there,” said Judith McKenna, Wal-Mart’s U.S. chief operating officer. But, she added, “there are interesting developments in technology that mean those roles shift and change over time.” Shopping is moving online, hourly wages are rising and retail profits are shrinking—a formula that pressures retailers, ranging from Wal-Mart to Tiffany & Co., to find technology that can do the rote labor of retail workers or replace them altogether.
China-based businesses have been sinking money into various automotive operations—from glass and tire makers to technology developers and car makers—for several years, reflecting Beijing’s goal of eventually dominating the world’s car business. That effort accelerated during the first half of 2017, with eight overseas deals totaling more than $5.5 billion in Chinese investments, compared with nine investments for all of last year. The list includes the takeover of troubled Japanese air-bag maker Takata Corp. , the purchase of a U.S. flying-car developer and the acquisition of a sizable stake in Silicon Valley’s Tesla Inc. TSLA 1.43% by games and social-media company Tencent Holdings Ltd.
The number of U.S. job openings hit a new high in April while hiring slowed, a sign that employers are struggling to find workers.
The number of job openings rose by 259,000 to 6.04 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday, the highest level recorded since the government started tracking the figure at the end of 2000. The number of hires, meanwhile, fell by 253,000 to 5.05 million in April.