Shortly after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its rotten September report in which the economy created a meager 142,000 jobs, Japan announced that it was experimenting with driverless taxis. The first trail run will take about 50 passengers from their suburban Tokyo homes to supermarkets located along the city’s main road. Japan hopes to have a fleet of such vehicles road-tested and ready to transport passengers by the time Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.
|Driverless taxi will eliminate another profession.|
Should Japan be successful, as is probable, and the idea adopted in the U.S., the 8 million unemployed Americans may have fewer options to keep body and soul together. For years, driving a taxi has either been a full-time or part-time job for thousands. College students, struggling heads of family and individuals in need of extra pocket cash have been able to reply on driving a cab to generate at least a modest income. According to BLS, 233,000 persons were employed as chauffeurs or taxi drivers in 2012. Their median pay was $22,820, or $10.97 per hour. Entry level drivers have less than a high school education.
Despite consistently weak monthly jobs reports, many of the presidential candidates are calling for an easing of visa caps, mainly H-1B visas, to allow more foreign-born workers to enter the U.S. labor market.
If immigration advocates prevail, more H-1B visa holders could displace American tech workers whose post-employment options might no longer include driving a taxi or a limousine. The fired Americans would have to compete in one of the few booming employment sectors, waiting tables and serving cocktails.
Last year, PC Magazine published a list of the 20 jobs most vulnerable to robotics. Interestingly, drivers were not included. Robots may be replacing real workers faster than journalists can write stories about the jobsite transformation from human to machine.