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Expand chart
Data: Brookings; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The transition to digital mobility — the diffusion of digital technology into every transportation product and service, including autonomous vehicles — will impact at least 9.5 million people already working in transportation-related occupations, according to a new Brookings report.

Why it matters: Every week brings announcements around technology breakthroughs, capital infusions and new consumer-facing services. But that news often distracts from a pressing need to develop the workforce that will create, manage and maintain AVs, in addition to overseeing the digital services and built environment around them.

Where it stands: The public conversation so far has been either too narrow, focusing on drivers alone, or too wide, sweeping up all workers who drive as part of their professional routine.

Reality check: The pool of workers who will be affected by digital mobility — from professional drivers to employees in the motor vehicle and transportation support industries — is bigger than sizable sectors like finance, real estate and administrative services.

  • And that's without counting the many people working in the computing and telecommunications industries on the R&D that will power new transportation technologies.
  • Critically, the transportation industry represents a core component of work in every state — not just those that manufacture vehicles or have a higher proportion of truck drivers. No state employs less than 5% of its workforce in mobility-related occupations.

The bottom line: AVs and digital mobility platforms are coming to market fast. Preparing the workforce for them will require partnerships among cities and states, educational institutions, civic organizations and private employers — and a clearer understanding of the jobs and skills that will be most in demand.

Adie Tomer is a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program and leads its Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative.

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

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