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Over 4 Million Jobs Could Be Lost in Rapid Transition to Autonomous Vehicles

Men, people of color and residents of North Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Iowa, and Indiana Are Most Likely to Be Affected

Washington, D.C., March 13, 2017—Over 4 million driving jobs could be lost to fully autonomous vehicles if this technology is adopted in a short period of time, a new paper from the Center for Global Policy Solutions (CGPS) finds.

Stick Shift: Autonomous Vehicles, Driving Jobs, and the Future of Work” shows that men and people of color nationally and workers in states such as North Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Iowa, and Indiana would suffer disproportionate pain and economic disruption from such a transition. In these states, a higher share of workers is in driving occupations, and those jobs pay significantly more than non-driving occupations. Many of those impacted could lose their jobs, and experience declining wages in both driving and non-driving occupations. The economic ripple effects throughout those states and their regions would be severe.

With more than 30 companies—from automakers such as BMW and Ford to leading technology corporations like Apple and Google—developing autonomous vehicle technology, the idea that workers will be supplanted by these innovations is no longer science fiction.

“This crisis is likely right around the corner,” says Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, CGPS President and CEO. “We need a strong safety net that can bolster workers in the event of large-scale, rapid job losses, along with policies that can transition them to new jobs.”

Select findings include:

  • Of the nation’s 4.1 million driving jobs, 77 percent are delivery and heavy truck drivers, 14 percent bus drivers, and 8 percent taxi and chauffeur drivers. There are 3.6 million men and about half a million women in these occupations.
  • Whites make up about 62 percent of the 4.1 million workers in driving occupations, but blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans are overrepresented:
    • With 4.23 percent (653,000) of black workers in driving occupations, blacks rely on driving jobs more than other racial/ethnic groups. This is true in every driving occupation category.
    • With 3.25 percent (717,000) of Hispanic workers in driving occupations, Hispanics have the second heaviest reliance on the sector and are especially overrepresented as delivery drivers and heavy truck drivers and very slightly as taxi drivers and chauffeurs.
    • With 3.07 percent (59,000) of American Indians holding driving jobs, that population is also slightly overrepresented, especially among delivery drivers and heavy truck drivers and as bus drivers.
  • Delivery drivers and heavy truck drivers, which make up 77 percent of the driving occupations, have the highest median pay at $34,700, more than the $33,700 median wage for non-driving occupations.
  • For Hispanics, driving jobs have a median annual wage over $5,800 higher than for non-driving jobs. For blacks, that driving premium is nearly $2,500 more than non-driving jobs and for American Indians it is $2,000 higher than for non-driving jobs. So, for all these racial and ethnic groups, the loss of driving jobs would be a significant loss of some of their better paying work opportunities.
  • Driving occupations represent a significant source of work for those with lower levels of education: 93 percent of delivery and heavy truck drivers have less than a bachelor’s degree.
  • The top five states with the largest numbers of workers in driving occupations are California (432,000), Texas (353,000), New York (282,000), Florida (224,000), and Illinois (189,000).

The report recommends a number of policies to mitigate job losses, including:

  • Automatic Unemployment Insurance. Related job training and placement benefits should be fully funded and modernized to meet the anticipated demand.
  • Progressive Basic Income. With some changes, the Social Security program—which has features facilitating the collection and distribution of revenue on a broad and progressive scale—could be an effective and efficient delivery mechanism for a basic income.
  • Automatic Medicaid Eligibility. This type of assistance will enable workers to protect their health and their wallets while they seek opportunities to retrain, gain additional education, and/or find new employment.


Founded on the principle that a more inclusive nation is a stronger, more prosperous one, the Center for Global Policy Solutions (CGPS) is a 501(c)(3) that equips businesses and organizations with the tools to effect change, driving society toward inclusion. Drawing on our unique blend of policy and advocacy expertise, CGPS develops strategies, research, programs, policies, and communications that address disparities in health, education, and economic security by race/ethnicity, place, gender, and age.