Jobs and Automation in the Freight and Warehousing Sector

Today there are companies experimenting with autonomous mobile vehicle and equipment technologies. These technologies come in various forms, from small delivery robots to large automated heavy-duty trucks and cargo movers. Some of these have been part of the labor force in factories, warehouses, and distribution centers worldwide for some industries, and their expansion is likely. A recent white paper from UC Davis assesses the landscape for freight automation and its potential labor impacts in the freight and warehousing sector; this policy brief summarizes the key findings and policy implications of that research. While there are still more questions than answers, it is known that as the technology matures, the future for workers will depend on policymaker and industry actions. While these actions can have potentially negative effects for some workers (e.g., job loss or reduced job quality), they can have positive effects for others (e.g., improved safety, security, job quality, and new high-quality jobs).