It Costs an Arm and a Leg: Workers’ Compensation [Infographic]
9.2 billion tons — that is how much freight is moved across the country each year according to the American Trucking Associations. To get that much cargo moved from point “A” to destination “B” requires three million truck drivers. Simply put, without truckers, the nation comes to a grinding halt. That’s why it might surprise you to find out that the states with the most work-related fatalities for trucks are also the states that are cutting benefits for those truckers’ families.
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By the Numbers
Transportation drivers make up the largest single job sector in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 there were 3,356 reported deaths for this segment of the work industry. For that same year, ProPublica reported that 18 states cut workers’ compensation benefits in states where a transportation driver was the most common job.
The worst offenders of cutting workers’ compensation benefits were Texas, California, New York, Florida and Ohio. It so happens, these are the same states that employ the most workers in the transportation industry. Obviously, states can make the rationalization that cutting benefits across the board is their only way to make up for budget shortfalls. Balancing fiscal budgets for a state is a challenge, but is cutting benefits for workers who directly impact that state’s economy the best approach?
A Trucker’s Salary
The issue of benefits becomes even more crucial to examine when stacked up against the average salary for the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a trucker is $37,930 annually. The top 10% of truckers make just $58,000 per year. Keep in mind this is a job that can often keep a trucker away from their family and driving in very dangerous conditions.
It should also be noted that the trucking industry pays roughly $20 billion in taxes to states in the form of highway taxes. That money is supposed to go towards upkeep of roads and for these benefit payouts.
Workers in the transportation industry aren’t the only ones impacted by these types of cuts. Truckers are joined by nurses, farmers, teachers and secretaries in the fight for fair workers’ compensation.
Thankfully, not every state took to slashing benefits, though. Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Hampshire and South Dakota actually increased their potential benefits payout. Other states such as Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana, and more, opted to stick with the status quo in regards to workers compensation benefits.
Changing the Trend
Although this trend in 2014 is initially alarming, we would also like to emphasize that the numbers might not present the full picture. Because these matters are being dealt with at a state level, it is important to know where your local representative stands on the issue. Did they vote for these cuts? How do they defend that vote? Who is funding their campaign? If you have questions about a workers’ compensation claim, reach out to KBG Injury today. Get a free consultation.