Orders in North America for robots are reaching record numbers as the U.S. economy continues to slog through a labor shortage fueled by the pandemic.
According to data from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) – a trade group representing organizations involved in robotics, AI and other tech – the total number or orders this year reached nearly 29,000, with a value of $1.48 billion.
The orders are up 37% from a year ago, says the trade group.
“With labor shortages throughout manufacturing, logistics and virtually every industry, companies of all sizes are increasingly turning to robotics and automation to stay productive and competitive,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of A3, in a statement.
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During the third quarter, North American companies order 9,928 robots valued at $513 million, the third highest quarter ever in orders and fifth highest ever for value, said A3.
The surge in robotics orders comes amid The Great Resignation, with a record number of Americans quitting their jobs this year for incentives such as better pay.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, a record high 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September. The U.S. economy had 10.4 million job openings at the end of September, found BLS.
Artificial intelligence has also helped companies address the labor shortage. For example, Starbucks has automated tasks such as tracking store inventory, while more stores add self-checkout options.
But the increased shift toward automation could place millions of U.S. jobs in danger. A 2017 report from the McKinsey Global Institute said automation could destroy as many as 73 million U.S. jobs by 2030.
USA TODAY’s Nathan Bomey, Paul Davidson, and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.