FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 13, 2022
Contact: Ana Fox-Hodess, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 915-6993
New report finds that employers’ use of new technologies threatens jobs and working conditions in several key industries
BERKELEY, CA – The UC Berkeley Labor Center has released a report on how and why employers in key industries are deploying new technologies, and what effects these changes could have on workers. The report, “Technological change in five industries: Threats to jobs, wages, and working conditions,” synthesizes the findings from studies released by the Labor Center and Working Partnerships USA from 2018 to 2022. The report concludes that technology’s effects on job quality – like wages and working conditions – should be just as big of a concern as its effects on the total number of jobs available.
The original studies examined employers’ use of technology in five industries likely to experience technology-induced changes in the coming years: trucking, warehouses, health care, retail, and food delivery. The synthesis report, authored by Jessie HF Hammerling, discussed the main takeaways from the recent studies:
- Employers’ use of new technologies is changing the content of workers’ jobs but is likely to have limited effects on the overall number of jobs, though specific occupations could be dramatically affected.
- Employers in each industry are using new technologies in ways that may degrade workers’ wages and working conditions and worsen existing labor market inequities.
- Employer decision-making about new technologies is shaped by contextual factors including the presence or absence of regulations and worker organizations; industrial competitiveness; and broader social influences such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report finds that, in many industries, current trends in technological adoption are on course to lead to bad outcomes for workers, including lower wages, deskilling, deteriorating job quality, loss of privacy and autonomy, and worsening market inequality for women and people of color.
However, Dr. Hammerling is quick to underscore that these results are not preordained. “The actions we take now will shape the course of tech development and adoption. Employers’ choices about the technology they implement are shaped by many factors, such as industry regulation, state and federal labor policy, and the ability of labor unions to lift up workers’ stakes in technological change.”
The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education (Labor Center) is a public service project of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at UC Berkeley.