Rising cost of commuting changing how Americans work

2005

To most Europeans, the U.S is still the land of cheap petrol and gas guzzlers, but rising fuel prices are beginning to take their toll on the American worker, encouraging more of them to change how they commute or even look for work closer to home.

The online study by recruitment firm Manpower of 1,300 American workers found more than two thirds felt rising gasoline prices were affecting their ability to get to work.

The most common adjustments employees were making in response to soaring fuel costs included searching for a job closer to home (35 per cent) and shortening commuting routes or finding other forms of more fuel efficient transport (12 per cent).

Some six per cent said they were making increasing use of public transport, perhaps a reflection of the poor reputation and woeful infrastructure of the public transport network in many parts of the U.S.

A total of 5 per cent said they had bought a fuel efficient vehicle, with a similar percentage trying out car pooling.

Some, admittedly a tiny minority, were taking more radical steps, with 4.5 per cent changing jobs to get a shorter commute, 3.5 per cent working from home or an alternative location.

But a total of 29 per cent – the second highest score – said they had made no changes whatsoever, perhaps reflecting either bullishness or resignation about fuel prices.

"It seems we have finally crossed a price threshold, and consumers are ready to make lifestyle changes in reaction to high gas prices," said Melanie Holmes, Manpower senior vice president.

"This is a red flag to employers. The survey results show that 4.5 percent of people have already changed jobs and another 35 percent are thinking about it in order to reduce expenses associated with commuting," she added. "Clearly, the price at the pump is the newest threat to employee retention."

Holmes continued: "Companies are facing hardships related to the spike in gas prices, but they need to be sensitive to the fact that employees are experiencing a similar budget crunch.

"Rising fuel costs are not just an operational business issue – there is a human resources component that must be addressed too," she added.