Robots are coming to take your manufacturing job and it might not be so bad

Experts predict robots could take up to 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030 and the future of workers’ compensation insurance.


CNN published an interesting article discussing how robots could take up to 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030. That would result in 8.5% of the global manufacturing workforce being displaced. A shocking statistic considering we are just 11 years away. The good news is that automation is expected to create new jobs at a similar pace. Automation is predicted to boost global GDP but could result in greater income inequality between classes of people.

We are fascinated by how new technology impacts the labor market. The gig economy has already shown how lawmakers are slow to respond. People driving for Uber and Lyft are finding out the hard way that independent contractors do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits when an accident occurs. This has led to several class action lawsuits and we still do not have any good answers.

Millions of jobs lost to automation could lead to new opportunities. We have seen this first-hand in the Metro Detroit area where automobile manufacturing has been at the forefront of automation. Here are some of our predictions for how workers’ compensation insurance could be impacted.

It should come as no surprise that manufacturing jobs are physically demanding. It is not uncommon to see long-term employees develop back, neck, shoulder, and knee problems. We expect fewer people to get hurt when they are doing less strenuous work. Automation will put robots into these roles and that is a good thing. It is also possible to see more repetitive use injuries as the nature of work changes.

Michigan businesses are generally required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if they have 3 or more employees or 1 employee working 35 hours per week. Individuals who repair and service robots but might not be needed full-time. Businesses could start making greater use of independent contractors for this purpose. These individuals better have their own disability insurance policies because workers’ compensation will not be available to them.

Employers purchase workers’ compensation insurance to protect against financial loss. It covers payment of lost wages and medical treatment when an employee gets hurt on-the-job. The entire system could be jeopardized if not enough businesses are required to purchase this product. It needs to be a financially viable insurance product to succeed.

State funds that provide workers’ compensation benefits could also become insolvent when businesses are not paying enough into the system. It is financed by contributions from self-insured employers and insurance companies based upon a proportionate share of premiums they write.

Our lawmakers need to start thinking about these issues now. Technology will surely change the labor market, but fundamental issues remain. Safety in the workplace needs to be a top priority. New occupations will have different challenges. We must also have workers’ compensation laws that protects people hurt on-the-job regardless of their employment classification.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

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