The Trouble With Trucking

Courtesy of The New York Times. By The Editorial Board

The economy is booming. The stock market is frothy. Corporations are earning record profits. Yet workers are getting minuscule raises that don’t make up for the rising cost of living.

What gives?

To understand how this disparity came to be, consider the plight of long-distance truck drivers. They spend weeks away from home, crisscrossing the country to keep store shelves stocked and the economy humming. The trucking industry complains it can’t find enough drivers. And yet thevalue of drivers’ paychecks just keeps falling over time.

The 1.7 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the United States earned an average of $44,500 last year, according to government data. That’s little changed in inflation-adjusted terms over the past several years. Over the past several decades, inflation-adjusted driver pay has fallen sharply. The 1980 census found that the average male driver — virtually all drivers at the time were men — earned roughly $17,400 in 1979, or about $55,500 in 2017dollars. That pay drop has coincided with drivers working …

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