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'Driving Robots' Aren't Taking Our Jobs — They Create Higher-Paying Ones

The self-driving vehicle industry has yet to displace drivers, and data from the Indeed Hiring Lab shows that high-income job creation in the industry is rising fast.

One concern that often arises when discussing driverless vehicle technology is the potential for job loss. Employees in shipping, personal shuttles and most notably in the taxi industry have all staged some form of protest.

But what is often overlooked is the job creation potential that comes with robotics and advanced sciences. At a recent conference, for instance, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto noted that, “Robotics creates jobs; it doesn't take away from it.”

In a study done by the Indeed Hiring Lab, data was compiled on job postings related to working on autonomous vehicles, taking note of job titles with the phrase "autonomous vehicle" or "self-driving car." It broke down the data into a number of variables including hiring company, country, how many postings were listed and how many clicks by users. According to Indeed Economic Research Analyst Daniel Culbertson, there has been a lot of discussion in the market about “the potential for automation as a labor source.”


Although the trend has been climbing since the second quarter of 2014 with gradual increases through the second quarter of 2015, the third quarter of 2015 saw a near plateau, which coincided with a drop in the Dow Jones Global Indexes and the NASDAQ Composite Index. But that was no matter, as both postings and clicks skyrocketed in the fourth quarter of 2015.


Most of the job listings, Culbertson said, are “focused on engineering, machine and deep learning," and public-sector leaders must understand the types of jobs derived from this new technology and the potentially higher income that accompanies it.

During the innovation stage, private companies typically lead the way, but a partnership exists in that municipal governments are constantly regulating the testing and implementation of self-driving vehicles. While much of the industry remains in the research and development phase, the industry is gaining more and more momentum.

And various types of businesses are forging this new industry, and therefore hiring.

“People feel it's an industry on the cusp of disruption," said Indeed PR Manager Nathan Beers, adding that so many companies are trying to put their foot in the door. Whether it is new-age tech companies, auto-suppliers and traditional vehicle manufacturers, the autonomous vehicle market is attracting a wide swath of interest.

“For an area like Detroit, which had two or three decades of hard times," said Culbertson, “this is really an opportunity for them to jump back into the mix.”

Although the data is not broken down by region of the country, Culbertson noticed two areas of the country that led in job postings: Silicon Valley and the Midwest. Google led the pack, which is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., while the next two companies as far as hiring are General Motors and Ford, both in and around Detroit.

“The two areas I’d like to see a comparison of are the Midwest, mainly Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, compared to Silicon Valley,” Culbertson said, noting that it's an interesting dynamic. It is unknown whether the areas will emerge as competing markets, he said, or possibly partner together, perhaps sticking to whatever their competitive advantage may be.

One interesting note from the study was that while the clicks outpace the postings overall, this changes while looking at a country-by-country breakdown. The postings outnumber the clicks in Germany and France, while the opposite rings true of the United States and Korea.


“If I had to take a guess," Culbertson said about why this could be, "it is because it is a little more competitive here [in the U.S.]”

As far as innovation in Europe, Germany outpaces the U.S., France and Korea combined in terms of number of postings — but the labor pool in the United States may either be more interested or just encompass a larger pool.

"The talent is interested,” said Culbertson, "and the talent is there.”

All charts courtesy of the Indeed Hiring Lab, republished with permission.

Ryan McCauley was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine from October 2016 through July 2017, and previously served as the publication's editorial assistant.