June 13 (UPI) -- Self-driving vehicles could result in the loss of 4 million jobs in the United States, but the drop in employment may be offset by an $800 billion annual boost to the economy, a new study indicates.
The report, commissioned by Securing America's Future Energy, a non-profit seeking to reduce U.S. reliance on oil, said the rise of autonomous vehicles could mean a tenth of a percent rise in the unemployment rate.
"Simulations of the impact of AVs on employment showed a range of impacts that would be felt starting in the early 2030s but would only increase the national unemployment rate by 0.06-0.13 percentage points at peak impact sometime between 2045 and 2050 before a return to full employment," the report said. "Through 2051, the marginal impacts on the unemployment rate will remain quite low when considered from an economy-wide perspective, below the current uncertainty in the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment reports."
But those job loss numbers could be dwarfed by the financial benefits of autonomous vehicles on the economy. The study determined public benefits by 2050 included congestion mitigation ($71 billion); accident reduction, economic impact ($118 billion); accident reduction, quality of life improvements ($385 billion); and reduced oil consumption ($58 billion). Consumer benefits include value of time ($153 billion) and reduction in cost of current taxi service ($10 billion). Total annual benefits would be $796 billion by 2050.
"Due to the large-scale societal benefits from the deployment of AVs, policies to address labor force issues must carefully consider their potential impact in delaying the deployment and thus the benefits of AVs," the study said. "Delaying the deployment of AVs would represent a significant and deliberate injury to public welfare.
"Rather than delaying the benefits, policymakers could ensure that the interests of the people who may lose jobs are well protected through effective mitigation programs."