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Gasoline prices stab US workers who depend on their cars

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Dee-ann Durbin

Detroit (AP) — Wallace Reid is looking for a new carrier due to high gas prices.

Reed, who drives Uber and Lyft in New York, fills Lexus at least three times a week. He pays about $ 95 each time. This is about twice as much as last year. To make up for that, he drives more often, but he also applies for other jobs that don't require his car.

"It's more time, more stress," he said. “New York City is not a comfortable city to work in, it is affecting our lives.”

Reed is not the only city. With gasoline prices reaching $ 5 per gallon for the first time recently, millions of Americans who depend on cars for work have changed their habits, signing for carpooling, and even throwing away their cars for bicycles. According to AAA, this week's average price is $ 4.95 per gallon, up from $ 3.06 per gallon a year ago.

There may be some help along the way. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden requested Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months. This will reduce gas prices by 18.4 cents per gallon. He also asked the state to stop his own petrol tax.

But in the meantime, gas is squeezing the budget.

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway struggled with whether to charge additional fees to Paws and Whiskers Sitters, a pet-owning business in Macomb, Illinois. She visits as many as 10 homes every day and fills up the 2018 Mazda CX-3 almost every week. With one recent replenishment, she cost nearly $ 50.

This month she finally acted. She contacted the client and told her to remove the 10% discount she always gave to repeaters.

Shoemaker-Galloway, the author of the children's book, said the customer understands. But she's worried that gas prices could otherwise cut into her business.

"Costs don't just affect my bottom line," she said. "People are reducing non-essential things because all prices are so high. This means sitting pets and selling books."

Normal summer, Orvilia Nieto May travel on an RV living in Lightle, Texas. But that may not happen this year. She is having a hard time filling the tank of the 2008 Ford Expedition SUV so she can get her job at T.J. Maxx delivery center in San Antonio, about 32km away.

Nieto and her colleague exchange tips on where gas is cheapest. She sometimes carpools and fills the tank halfway, but it still costs more than $ 50. But she feels lucky. Several colleagues on her shift, ending at 2:30 am, ride their bikes home in the dark.

"It was a steep road," she said. "If we lived in the city, it would be easier to get on the bus, but which bus route is available at 2:30 am at the end of the shift?"

Texas-based Gasoline prices and commuting times are becoming more and more annoying to job seekers, said Jill Chapman, a senior performance consultant at the recruiting and hiring company Insperity. According to Chapman, businesses are encouraged to consider temporary bonuses, public transport incentives, or petrol cards to assist their employees.

“Business owners need to admit that there is stress associated with rising gas prices,” Chapman said.

David Lewis, CEO of Operations Inc., a human resources consulting firm based in Norwalk, Connecticut, handed out gas cards to employees in 2009 when gasoline prices exceeded $ 4 per gallon. I remember. However, we won't do that this time because employees have different options. It's about working from home.

"This is an unwelcome development for companies trying to get people back into the office," Lewis said. "That's another reasonable reason those employees are pushing back."

Lewis has about 100 employees in Norwalk. Prior to COVID, 85% of them were in the office at least two days a week. Now probably 25% of them are. Lewis (and many of his clients) wants to meet more office employees, but says gas prices are a big barrier.

"If you're a company that always requires everyone to come, you're Paria," he said.

Brian Cesario, a professor of psychology, lived within walking distance of the university he teaches. But last year he moved to Hopewell Junction, NY, 55 miles away, so he could afford a bigger home for his growing family.

Sesario taught remotely, even before the pandemic, and assumed he would continue to do so. But last fall, his college began requiring him to drive to campus twice a week. Commuting now costs $ 240 a month for petrol. Sesario said it wasn't enough to make up for it, so he's looking for a completely remote job outside of academia.

For those who have to commute, there are options. On Tuesday, Uber announced that it would revive discount carpooling in nine US cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Carpooling organizations, such as those run by the Southeast Michigan Government Council in the Detroit region, say the number of participants has increased significantly.

Some people are finding a solution in their garage. Pame Viens and her husband, both tissue engineers preparing the tissue at a medical facility, switched vehicles due to long commute times. He is currently driving a 2016 Volkswagen Passat and she is driving a 2022 Dodge Ram.

"I'm only 5'1." She laughed and said, "I hit her forehead against the door mirror." "But I'm used to it."

But others just say they have to hustle harder. Brian Scheall, an Uber driver in Tampa, Florida, pays $ 75 each time he fills the Volkswagen Atlas.

"You can make money, but you have to work," Scheall said. He recently did a side job driving some customers from Florida to Virginia for some additional cash.

Uber says he understands that drivers are feeling a pinch from soaring gas prices, with an additional charge of 45 to 55 cents on all trips in March to mitigate the blow. Added. But Reid and Scheall both say that gig companies should do more.

"It makes no difference. It's like a grain of sand," Reed said of the extra charge.