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NYT: America's Truckers Feel Like 'Throwaway People'

NYT: America's Truckers Feel Like 'Throwaway People'
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 23 May 2017 11:05 AM

America’s 1.7 million men and women working as long-haul truck drivers say the job has changed from being a ticket to a middle-class existence to a grinding, low-wage job, according to a profile in The New York Times.

Truck driving, the most common job in most states, earn about $43,600 a year on average, less than in 1980 when adjusted for inflation.

“We’re throwaway people,” Greg Simmons, a trucker interviewed by the NYT. “Nobody cares about us. Everybody’s perception of a truck driver is we clog up traffic, we get in the way, we pollute the environment.”

The job dissatisfaction shows in the turnover rate for large truckload fleets, which was 81 percent last year. And that was the lowest reading in five years, according to American Trucking Associations.

Because truckers get paid by the mile and they’re restricted by federal rules on how long they drive, some feel squeezed in a no-win situation.

“If you get caught in a traffic jam for four hours, that’s four hours of your productivity gone,” Simmons said. “Or if you go to pick up a load and these people take five and a half hours to load you, they’ve killed five and a half hours of your day.”

Simmons, who is 54 years old, said that’s harder to find work at his age.

“I can’t retrain for anything else,” he said. “For older people, you kind of get trapped.”

Truck-driving jobs will disappear if self-driving technology improves to the point safety isn’t an issue.

When autonomous vehicles become more widespread, U.S. drivers could see job losses at a rate of 25,000 a month, or 300,000 a year, Goldman Sachs economists said in a research report this week. Those job losses include bus and taxi drivers, CNBC reported.

Uber, the mobile ride-hailing service that has conducted experiments with driverless vehicles, last week launched Uber Freight to expand its reach in the trucking industry.

Uber Freight will initially depend on having human beings at the wheel, promising that they will get paid more quickly than is traditional in the trucking industry. Uber’s ride-hailing service has been criticized by the taxi industry and labor unions for hurting incomes.

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America's 1.7 million men and women working as long-haul truck drivers say the job has changed from being a ticket to a middle-class existence to a grinding, low-wage job, according to a profile in The New York Times.
trucking, jobs, transportation, driving
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2017-05-23
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 11:05 AM
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