WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Zach Nunn (IA-03) and Don Davis (NC-01) today introduced legislation to protect Iowa’s jobs in the face of increasing automation in the workforce. The bipartisan Workforce DATA Act requires the U.S. Department of Labor to develop a plan to ensure that automation is a tool to make work easier, not an excuse to eliminate jobs.
“Technological advancement is good for society, and if done right, will make all of our lives easier. At the same time, we must ensure that workforce changes don’t eliminate good paying jobs that Iowans rely on,” said Rep. Nunn. “Our bipartisan Workforce DATA Act will develop an action plan to protect Iowans’ jobs, ensuring that automation is a tool to make work easier and more productive, not a replacement for the skills of talented Americans.”
Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) are already making lives easier and leading to new technological developments that will increase productivity in the workforce and grow the economy. A report published this year by Goldman Sachs, for example, found that generative AI could raise global GDP by 7 percent over a 10-year period. For all of the benefits of AI, however, Pew Research Center estimates that approximately one-fifth of all workers have high-exposure jobs that could results in jobs lost if not these issues go unaddressed.
The bipartisan Workforce DATA Act tackles this issue by requiring the Department of Labor to develop a plan to prevent job displacement, promote job creation, ensure job retention, and address the shifting of skill in demand due to automation. Through the establishment of a new advisory board, the bill will ensure that stakeholders from state government, labor organizations, companies, and non-profits are all consulted.
“At the end of the day, a job is about more than a paycheck,” said Rep. Davis. “In North Carolina’s First Congressional District, only about 130,000 workers, or 25 percent of the population, are four-year college graduates. These hard-working eastern North Carolinians are the most vulnerable to shifts in the labor market resulting from automation. In order to preserve their jobs, we must have a more concrete idea of how automation will affect the ratio of human to automated labor, which is why the Workforce DATA Act is an important step forward. In the 21st-century economy, workers are often at the mercy of rapid technological development. To ensure a robust workforce, we must use all tools at our disposal to protect workers in a changing landscape.”
Specifically, the bipartisan Workforce DATA Act would require the U.S. Secretary of Labor to:
- Conduct a study on workforce automation using all available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to assess industry sectors and occupations significantly impacted by automation, jobs and occupations created or changed as a result of automation, and occupational shifts in labor demand;
- Publish this plan to address the impact of automation on the workforce no later than 2-years after the enactment of the bill; and
- Establish an advisory board to provide recommendations on addressing the impact of automation on the workforce made up of state representatives, labor organizations, industry representatives, and non-profit organizations.
“Technological change has always been a hallmark of the transportation sector, but the rapid pace of advancements in emerging tech presents unique challenges,” said Greg Regan, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. “To ensure new transportation technologies align with our national workforce needs, we must have high-quality data and better coordination among stakeholders to track, analyze, and respond to the impacts of tech on current and future jobs, including their potential for job creation, displacement, wage degradation, and skills gaps due to new technologies. The Workforce DATA Act would be an invaluable tool in helping to meet this challenge, and we commend Representative Davis for his leadership on this urgent issue.”
The legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Todd Young (IN). Text of the bill can be found here.