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W.House expects May inflation to be ‘elevated’

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US President Joe Biden departs the White House in Washington on June 8, 2022
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The White House said Wednesday it expects US inflation was still “elevated” in May despite guarded hopes a key data report due for release later this week will show price increases had cooled.

Consumer prices in the world’s largest economy have soared by the fastest pace in more than four decades, with gas prices at the pump hitting new records daily amid the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as ongoing supply chain challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Labor Department is due to release consumer price data for May on Friday, and economists expect the monthly increase to accelerate after slowing in April, when CPI posted an 8.3 percent increase over last year.

“We expect the headline inflation number to be elevated,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters traveling with President Joe Biden on Air Force One.

Biden has made fighting inflation his top domestic priority, but is finding he has few tools to directly impact prices.

The Federal Reserve has begun raising interest rates aggressively to combat inflationary pressures, saying the goal is to sustain economic expansion while avoiding a recession.

Biden has stuck to an upbeat message about the overall outlook.

“We continue to believe that the economy can transition from what has been a historic recovery … to stable steady growth,” Jean-Pierre said.

But she acknowledged that the impact of the war in Ukraine has continued to push some prices higher, including airfares.

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States where truck drivers make the most

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Truckinfo.net combed through data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out in which states truck drivers make the most money.  
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Take a look behind the sales, logistics, and supply chain networks that underpin the American economy and keep it running, and you’ll find truck drivers. In 2021, the trucking industry moved 72% of all freight transported in the U.S.—totaling 10.93 billion tons of goods—according to the American Trucking Associations, the industry’s trade association. There were also 3.49 million truck drivers employed in 2021, a 3.7% increase from the previous year.

The median pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers nationwide was $23.23 per hour in 2021, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That equates to a little more than $48,000 per year based on a 40-hour work week, although most semi drivers work significantly more hours. The pay for a private fleet driver rose to more than $86,000—up nearly 18% from $73,000. However, some industry observers point out that when the pay is adjusted for inflation, salaries for truck drivers have dropped significantly since the 1970s.

To help explain what all this means for the future of trucking, Truckinfo.net used BLS data to find and compare the median hourly pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in each state. Here’s a look at what parts of the country are proving to be the most lucrative.

Heat map showing the median hourly wage of truck drivers in every state and D.C.

Truckinfo.net

Truck drivers in most states make $22 to $24 per hour

Truck drivers in the United States are well compensated compared to other jobs that require only a high school education. The median pay is $23.23 an hour, compared to the $18.42 average for workers with only a high school diploma.

Truck drivers have been in especially high demand since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the American Trucking Associations. As a result, trucking fleets are offering extraordinarily higher pay to attract and keep drivers. Weekly earnings have jumped five times their historical average and are up by more than 25% for long-haul, truckload drivers since the start of 2019. Drivers are also being offered thousands of dollars in sign-on bonuses and full benefits such as paid leave, health insurance, and 401(k) retirement funds.

Truck driver in casual clothes driving truck

Aleksandar Malivuk // Shutterstock

Where drivers made the most

Truck drivers are paid the most in Washington D.C. and Alaska, followed by Washington state and New Jersey. However, there are far fewer drivers in the District of Columbia and Alaska— 620 and 3,020—compared to 34,510 and 44,800 in Washington state and New Jersey. The lowest-paying states are West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, and Virginia.

Despite the demand and the range of benefits offered, one economist noted there is a serious shortage of drivers, blaming a combination of increased demand for freight, shrinking labor due to early retirements related to the pandemic, and closed driving schools. Others blame loneliness, on top of the job’s physical and emotional toll, as a reason for fewer truck drivers in the industry.

View of the highway from the vehicle cab of a truck

Evgeny Pyatkov // Shutterstock

Requirements and training

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers typically have a high school diploma and completed training at a professional truck driving school. At these schools, they get hands-on training learning to maneuver big rigs on highways and through streets. They are also taught federal laws and regulations concerning interstate truck driving.

For professional training, students can choose between a private school or a community college program that usually lasts between three and six months. Truck drivers need to have a commercial driver’s license, a clean driving record, pass a physical exam every two years, and submit to random testing for alcohol or drug abuse.

Happy truck driver driving his truck and looking at camera

Virrage Images // Shutterstock

Job outlook

Some in the industry believe the deregulation of the truck driving industry during the Carter administration has had an adverse effect on pay throughout decades. Still, employment of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is expected to grow 4% through 2031, a pace that is about the average for all occupations.

Over the decade, an average of about 259,900 openings for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers have been available each year, according to the BLS. Many of the openings are to replace workers who move to different occupations or retire. Truck driving remains a solid profession for many to enter the middle class without the need of an expensive four-year college degree.

This story originally appeared on Truckinfo.net and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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5 ways tech innovation has changed skilled trade jobs

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ServiceTitan examined how technological innovations have transformed jobs in the trade industries.   
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New technologies can significantly affect companies that adopt them, helping to reduce errors and boost productivity. That’s as true today as ever before.

The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, accelerated a shift to automation within many businesses seeking to alleviate worker shortages and boost profits. A September 2021 Harvard Business Review report found that jobs linked to artificial intelligence, algorithms, and automation saw a 28% increase, compared with the previous quarter that year. And an April 2022 report on cloud computing forecasted spending on cloud-based services to approach $600 billion next year, compared with a little over $400 billion in 2021.

The construction industry and other trade jobs, in particular, have undergone a major technological upheaval of late as those industries have navigated through supply chain issues and labor shortages. ServiceTitan compiled a list of some of those technologies based on an Association of General Contractors nonrandom survey of its members, other research reports, and news coverage of the industry.

A cloud server room

jamesteohart // Shutterstock

Cloud-hosted technologies

As previously mentioned, many companies, including trade businesses, are leaning more and more on cloud-hosted technologies. The way companies have had to navigate supply chain issues brought about by the pandemic has shown the benefits of putting information in the cloud.

For example, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning parts have been in high demand, largely due to supply chain issues. As a result, many trade businesses haven’t had enough new equipment, raw materials such as PVC, or replacement parts to meet demand. Manufacturers and businesses alike have also been battling labor shortages. Companies that have fared well are those with updated inventory cloud management systems. These companies can better analyze which products could be sourced in the U.S., determine the cost of equipment and materials, and prevent potential loss of revenue. And making sure the equipment and materials is available helps with worker retention by reducing idle time caused by supply shortages.

A civil engineer checking mobile construction software

sculpies // Shutterstock

Mobile software

More companies are using mobile software apps on construction sites. Construction software apps help employees on a project analyze and share data in real-time, and allow workers to generate field reports more quickly. According to the AGC survey published in January, most members (68%) said that they’ll use mobile software technology this year mainly for daily field reports. Sixty percent of AGC members also said they plan to use mobile software for employee time tracking, and 57% responded that they plan to use the software for field access to job information.

A worker using augmented reality glasses at a construction location

SeventyFour // Shutterstock

Virtual and augmented reality

Virtual and augmented reality goes back to the 1980s, when government agencies such as NASA used the technology to manufacture realistic scenes and objects. Mainstream interest died down for a while, but in recent years, there’s been more advancement and funding of the technology.

AR is obtained through visual elements and sound via technology, while virtual reality strives to create a sensory experience that can include sight and touch. The AR market is expected to grow to a worth of nearly $600 billion, according to a 2021 Grand View Research report.

Several companies have tapped into AR and VR technologies in recent years, including Microsoft’s creation of the HoloLens headset. The device uses AR technology with holographic processing and multiple optical sensors to simulate a virtual world.

Technology like the HoloLens can help engineers locate problems or efficiencies in early-stage design and create accurate models before construction starts. On building sites, the device could be used to inspect for safety or aid in training workers. McKinstry, a company with several locations across the U.S., used HoloLens to build an AR solution for a pipe-hanger installation project.

An architect wearing a VR headset for BIM technology to create a 3D model building

ME Image // Shutterstock

Building information modeling

Architectural blueprints and technical drawings have been increasingly replaced by building information modeling, a digital representation of spaces widely used by architects, engineers, and construction workers. BIM can provide interior and exterior 3D model data and documentation of a building. A 2021 Dodge Data & Analytics report found that BIM usage is most common among architects, with 40% using the technology for space utilization plans. About one in five AGC members surveyed plan to increase BIM investments in 2022.

A construction worker operating a drone

Dmitry Kalinovsky // Shutterstock

Drones

Drones monitor the surroundings while work is in progress and can catch potential hazardous situations. In 2021, for example, drone surveillance footage revealed a crack in Tennessee’s I-40 bridge, which posed a threat, causing the bridge to close for repair to avoid further catastrophe.

The construction industry can expect to see huge investments with President Biden’s infrastructure bill—which includes $110 billion for road and bridge projects and will allow grants to use U.S.-made drones to help ensure safety while jobs are in progress. Other legislation was recently passed to help research universities train future drone-operating employees.

This story originally appeared on ServiceTitan and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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Pandemic-related trends driving up auto insurance rates

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Cheapinsurance.com compiled a list of how the pandemic affected the cost of auto insurance from a collection of expert and government sources.
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The coronavirus pandemic affected the world’s economy in all sorts of ways, some less obvious than others—like its effect on car insurance rates.

There are a lot of factors that drive rate changes, including worker shortages, supply-chain delays, and changes in driving habits. Some of those have less apparent effects: With fewer new cars available, for instance, people are keeping older cars longer, though they may have more maintenance needs and less advanced safety equipment. Those who are buying cars may be purchasing more expensive models with high-tech additions that are costly to replace.

During the pandemic, people drove farther, though the number of crashes per mile driven remained the same, according to the Insurance Information Institute. So there were more traffic-related deaths and more insurance claims filed. Drivers also reported speeding more often than before the pandemic. With the unemployment rate falling and many companies returning to the office, more people are driving to and from work.

In 2021, auto insurance rates didn’t climb by much, but with 2022 coming to a close, Cheapinsurance.com compiled a list of how the pandemic has affected the cost of auto insurance from a collection of expert and government sources.

Two automotive technicians working on vehicles in a shop.

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Automotive technicians are in short supply, making repairs more costly

If your car is damaged in a collision or a crash, you will need an automotive technician to diagnose and fix what’s wrong. But those workers are in short supply, so their prices are going up. The shortage was a problem even before the pandemic: Low pay, an uncertain career path and trends for younger people to avoid trade jobs left dealers and auto repair shops struggling to find workers.

Tech Force Foundation, a nonprofit focused on the workforce development of professional technicians, reported that some 797,530 technicians will be needed in the automotive, diesel, and collision fields through 2025. Some observers are hopeful that as the country transitions to electric vehicles, the chance to be at the forefront of new technology will draw more workers to the field.

A wrecked car being towed in the snow.

Maria Dryfhout // Shutterstock

Replacing a totaled car is more expensive as the price of vehicles rose during the pandemic

A tight market and high demand sent prices soaring for both new and used cars. According to Kelley Blue Book, a compiler of car prices, the average price for a new car was $48,043 in July 2022, up 22.9% from July 2021. Consumer Reports recommends considering a new car over a used one if you’re looking for a model from the last three years (or less) because the costs might be similar.

Even after pandemic-related bottlenecks in the supply chain eased and dealers could restock their inventories, new cars have remained out of reach for some Americans. Rising interest rates—a result of the Federal Reserve’s inflation-fighting efforts—mean car loans are too pricey for some would-be buyers.

An aerial view of containers piled at a port.

Li Canrong/VCG // Getty Images

From semiconductors to windshield wipers, supply chain disruptions contributed to more expensive repairs

The price of car parts, whether tires or wiper blades, has risen about 20% compared to 2021, and more parts were on backorder because of supply chain bottlenecks. A lack of available new cars over the last two years means that the average age of vehicles on the road is about 12 years, older than typical.

As a result, dealerships and automobile repair shops are getting more service requests than ever. Those older vehicles often need more extensive—and more expensive—repairs, such as transmission replacements. Car owners are waiting longer than usual for repairs, too. And they might not have been offered a loaner car in the meantime because dealers are short of vehicles to sell, much less lend out.

First responders to an accident blocking traffic.

Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group // Getty Images

Car accidents are happening more frequently

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2021. That’s a 10.5% increase over 2020, the highest fatalities since 2005, and the most significant annual percentage increase in the agency’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System history.

Notable increases included deaths from multi-vehicle crashes and accidents on urban roads, which are up 16%; deaths of those 65 years or older, up 14%; pedestrian deaths, up 13%; and deaths in crashes involving at least one large truck, up 13%, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The number of miles drivers in the U.S. traveled in 2021 rose by about 325 billion miles, or about 11.2%, compared with 2020. But despite the increase, the fatality rate per miles driven remained about the same as 2020—1.33 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2021 compared to 1.34 deaths in 2020. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden includes up to $6 billion over five years for various efforts to reduce crashes and fatalities.

A radar detector shows a passing car's speed limit as it speeds down the road.

Michael O’Keene // Shutterstock

For many, auto insurance costs didn’t increase between 2020 and 2022

Many Americans got rebates from auto insurance companies during the height of the pandemic because they drove less. Even with those refunds, estimated to total $16.4 billion, insurers’ profits increased as the number of claims fell. But as the pandemic wore on, auto insurance prices again headed up.

One change in driving habits was that drivers seem to be speeding more often since the pandemic began, increasing the chance of crashes and making them potentially more severe. States such as Maryland and Virginia are looking at ways to reduce speeding that other states could consider duplicating.

This story originally appeared on Cheapinsurance.com and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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