According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 4,223,800 people employed in the transportation and warehousing industry.
One of the most exciting fields is the generation of automated cars. When a commercial tractor-trailer gets in to accidents with cars there is a high chance of fatalities.
A CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) is a key for many to move up in the world. Gain enough experience and you can be a tractor-trailer truck driver. In the future jobs like this will begin to disappear and a significant percentage of that over 4 million people will end up without a job. Think of it as a simple benefit to risk situation. Once the technology is capable, there is no longer a risk of the driver falling asleep at the wheel, being drunk behind the wheel, or any of the other driver related accidents. The savings on insurance alone after a few years of stable driving will entice some trucking companies to this model. Then they can charge lower rates and undercut the rest of the industry. Other trucking companies will have to follow just to stay in business.
I personally have been to automated warehouses. The managers of these warehouses make statements like: “I run a warehouse with 30 people now, that was once over 400 people. The worst thing about running a warehouse is dealing with the employees. They take off unexpected, they have personality conflicts, and they represent a huge expense. Fewer employees equals fewer problems.”
The automated warehouse I was at was not for some simple boxed industry, it was for servers. There were two ASRSs (Automated Storage and Retrieval System) one with the major computer components and one with all the cords, accessories, manuals, and peripherals. These two ASRSs would pick the appropriate components and would meet at the truck loading dock to be loaded on to the truck. The massive savings in this automation was not enough; however, as the warehouse was moved to Mexico where the lower costs of labor were cheaper than the automated warehouse.
As technology becomes cheaper for the ASRS it won’t be long before the warehouses return to the US, but there will be few jobs associated with the gain in number of warehouses.