What if the future of the construction industry looks a lot like the decades-long change in manufacturing? Automation has increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved quality in the construction industry. But technological changes that displace human labor in the construction industry could have devastating impacts on workers, families, and the U.S. economy in the future. What are the impacts to the Midwest?

A new report by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois, The Potential Economic Consequences of a Highly-Automated Construction Industry: What If Robots Turn Construction into the Next Manufacturing?, explores the future of the building trades in the age of automation.

There has been a growing concern among many workers, experts, and elected officials on the effects of construction positions becoming less reliant on human labor. Automation, artificial intelligence, and technological advancements are already improving productivity and reducing costs on construction work sites. More and more contractors are investing in technology, machinery, and robotics to address shortage of construction workers across the nation. Over time, millions of blue-collar construction workers across the nation may become replaced or displaced as the industry becomes more reliant on automation. This change will be gradual, but the effects of displacing workers from middle-class jobs will impose significant costs on the economy.

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