US Robot Orders Rise 40% as Labor Shortages and Inflation Persist

Inflation and the tight job market are turning out to be beneficial for robots.

Orders for workplace robots in the United States rose 40% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2022, as companies are harnessing automation to combat labor shortages and cut costs as they grow. inflation continues near a 40-year high.

According to data from the Association for the Advancement of Automation (A3), about 9,000 robots together worth about $544,000 were sold in the United States during the first quarter, compared to more than 6,400 robots worth $544,000. set of approximately $346,000 sold during the same period a year ago.

In North America, more than 11,500 robots with a collective value of approximately $646 million were sold in the three-month period from January to March, the most ever purchased in a single quarter. North America figures represent growth of 28% and 43% respectively during the first quarter of 2021 and 7% and 25% respectively during the fourth quarter of 2021, the previous best quarter.

Boston Dynamics, one of the leaders in automation, frequently shows off the work they’ve been doing with “Spot.”

A3 represents nearly 1,100 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, academic institutions, research groups, and consulting firms around the world.

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The first quarter of 2022 marked the seventh of the last nine quarters in which non-automotive customers ordered more robots than automotive customers.

Non-automotive customers in North America ordered a total of 6,122 units during the quarter, compared to 5,476 units ordered by automotive-related customers. Unit sales to auto OEMs grew 15% year-over-year, while orders from auto component companies increased 22% year-over-year.

Robot orders are up 40% year-over-year in the metals industry, up 29% year-over-year in the plastics and rubber industry, up 23% year-over-year in the semiconductor, electronics and photonics industry , were up 21% year-over-year in the food and consumer goods industry and up 14% in the life sciences, pharmaceutical and biomedical industry. Meanwhile, all other industries saw robot order growth of 56% year over year.

“Companies of all sizes, and more and more small and midsize businesses, are implementing robotics and automation because it’s more doable than ever,” A3 VP of Membership and Business Intelligence Alex Shikany told FOX Business. “There are a variety of financing models, new hardware and software, and more user-friendly experiences for customers to enjoy.”

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The data comes as the total number of vacancies in the US has risen to 11.5 million. The Labor Department reported that 4.5 million Americans, or about 3% of the workforce, quit their jobs in March. In April, the US economy added 428,000 stronger-than-expected nonfarm jobs.

“The main trend we’re hearing regarding workforce automation right now is that companies can’t find people,” Shikany added. “Many of our members are hiring right now, but are unable to fill the positions due to a lack of qualified candidates.”

Inflation has also taken a bite out of workers’ wage earnings, with real average hourly earnings falling 2.6% year over year in April.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that inflation will remain high in the short term, and the consumer price index is expected to hit 4.7% for all of 2022. While that’s slightly lower than the 6.7% recorded in 2021, the highest level in four decades, it’s still significantly higher than what the Federal Reserve wants. Inflation is not expected to fall to the Fed’s preferred level of 2% until 2024, according to the CBO.

In its Future of Jobs Report published in October 2020, the World Economic Forum estimated that the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal by 2025. WEF predicts that 85 million jobs may be displaced by a change in division. of work between humans and machines by 2025, while 97 million new jobs may emerge more suited to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms.

Megan Henney of Fox Business contributed to this report

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