Cowen and truck driving jobs in North Dakota
by Mike Kimel
Tyler Cowen has a post on truck driving jobs in North Dakota:
My poking around showed that some of them start at 75k a year, though with raises for good performance.
The implication, of course – why don’t unemployed people move to North Dakota and drive trucks for good wages rather than stick around and collect unemployment?
I’ve got a theory:
Screenshot from Job Service North Dakota, run by the State Gov’t of North Dakota.
Advertised wages for light truck drivers are quite a bit lower ($21,736 for entry level).
More generally, I imagine there is a reason why unemployed relatively unskilled people, in, say, Lincoln, Nebraska don’t go through the expense of moving their families to Bismark and taking the coursework needed to get certified in order to get a job paying $32K a year or to do the equivalent to become a roughneck at a gas boomtown, even ignoring the fact that the jobs pay less than outsiders believe and the costs of taking them are greater. See… we’ve been through this before many times.
The boom in the new skillset often ends before the new entrants can recoup their investment in gaining the skillset. And not just for the unskilled. Ask the folks who flocked to Silicon Valley in the 1990s for those great jobs as programmers. I’m sure you can find someone who drove out to Palo Alto in 1996 who is still programming and making north of $175K to boot but I’m guessing those people are huge outliers, not the trendline.
Disclosure. I’m now currently looking for a full time job. Given the severance package I accepted from my previous employer and since I have some consulting work to do, I’m pretty sure I’m neither eligible for unemployment benefits nor able to move to North Dakota to train for an exciting new career hauling cargo.
Have you guys ever went to weather.com and looked at the average temps in Minot Oct-March????
Its not that tough to figure out. They are also always lookiing for good workers, at good pay, in the Yukon….
Islam will change
“prime working-age men between 25 and 54, only 81.2 percent held jobs, a barely noticeable improvement from its low point last year – and still well below the depths of the 1982-83 recession, when employment among prime-age men never dropped below 85 percent. To put those numbers in perspective, consider that in 1969, 95 percent of men in their prime working years had a job”
“After accounting for inflation, median wages for men between 30 and 50 dropped 27 percent – to $33,000 a year – from 1969 to 2009”
My BS detector was ringing like crazy when I read Cowen’s post, and it only took a minute to find the ND site. I’m curious how good even the Alaska jobs are.
A quick check of the Alaska equivalent site doesn’t spit out pay but if I had the time I might be more lucky. Still, I checked Indeed.com for “truck driver” and Alaska. Its hard to make heads or tails of some of the ads (my guess is that’s on purpose) but essentially you’re expected to own your own truck for a lot of jobs I’m seeing up there. Here’s an example that came up: http://www.careersingear.com/jobdetails/jobid-442896?zmc=indeed
I don’t have the expertise to work out how much the whole thing pays, but I figure consider the 90 cents a mile thing… assume 70 mph, 40 hours a week. (Optimistic, I figure, unless you’re doing more than 40 hours per but let’s go with it) That’s about 2500 a week… for an owner operator, before expenses on the truck. Or about $125K a year for someone experienced and who owns a truck, but again, there are some add ins, some subtractions (I just don’t know enough to calculate from the ad) and then there are expenses on the truck which my guess is are pretty high. Its like offering someone $100K a year to be a waiter, but they have to provide the restaurant, and you get to specify details about the restaurant.
Anyway, I’d be curious what someone would find if they had the tenacity to call up and find out what a real live truck driver makes in the Yukon, on average, no anecdotes. My guess is that pace Tyler Cowen you really cannot find truck driver pay at triple digits unless there’s an expectation that you will do something illegal (e.g., midnight dumping) or get shot at (i.e., be a contractor in Iraq).
Truck driving in Alaska seems to be a lot like crab fishing in Alaska, a really hard job that can pay well but is incredibly risky in both in terms of the a person’s life and actual income. Wrecking your truck can basically eat your income and put you at risk of death from exposure besdies any type of injury from crashing.
The neighbor across the street did the Alaska trucking thing and told me he had to have 20K of ready cash at all times to keep the truck running. Told me of meeting a moose on the road. He stopped in plenty of time but the moose charged anyway and ruined his radiator.
The clip said 150 jobs availble. MMMMM? Sure, those 13million out of work lazy bums should all rush off to the Dakotas. Jobs for all!
It appears that there are only roughly 325 truck driver jobs available in North Dakota. That’s all type of truck drives, not limited to over-the-road.
Why should a CDL qualified semi truck driver relocate to North Dakota when there are so few new opportunities and number of trucking employers? How would that make sense? Why put up with the winters and limited operations that may occur then? Why not look at Texas, the state that so many leftists despise? Plenty of trucking firms there.
Texas truck driver jobs
Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers
May 2010 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010
53-3032 Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer ranked by percent growth
Employment Trends by Occupation Across States
HEAVY AND TRACTOR-TRAILER TRUCK DRIVERS: NORTH DAKOTA
North Dakota Workforce Intelligence Network
Truck Transportation in North Dakota
NDWIN Job Search
Type in “truck driver” for the list of positions available.
In fairness, Cowen is quoting a newstory. In this instance, its his BS detector that is flawed.
But that’s ’cause nobody wants to work those 75K a year jobs that are disguised as 32K a year jobs.
Even so, my guess is that the pay quite what is advertised.
“ and told me he had to have 20K of ready cash at all times to keep the truck running”
Not a problem. The econ textbooks I had all said you should be able to borrow that frictionlessly.
Yes, the average truck driver wages are less in Texas but one can haul loads all year.
Other states offer better overall truck driver opportunities than North Dakota.
A lot of those high paying truck jobs leave out some key information: “BTW, bring your own truck.”
Apparently there is a common cycle among independent truckers in that new people come into the field with their own truck and make $100K per year. However they forget to account for depreciation, so that after a few years of making $100K, they have no truck left. Then someone new comes in…..
tyler cowan’s bs detector burned out in sophomore Economics. i gave up on him when he was telling us how global warming was going to be good for the economy.
It is not difficult to pull down $50K plus as an over-the-road truck driver. The beyond 6-month mileage rate cited by the company appears to support that likehood.
I reviewed the truck driver employment data at TWC and BLS. I am not sure what the problem is, but those numbers look low for over-the-road drivers. Maybe they need a separate category for long haul drivers.
I know a few guys driving semi trucks out of Texas. The company drivers do quite well on long hauls, earning more than $50K per year driving company equipment. A few other friends are owner/operators and they did very well when fuel costs were lower, but have had to increase their hauls to pull down similar earnings. One friend gave up on out-of-state hauls due to fuel costs and has managed to break even with his previous earnings hauling in-state. He works more hours now, but is satisfied.
I am sick and tired of econmists and journalists citing North Dakota as a trend setter.
There are more steers than people in North Dakota. The weather is wretched. If everyone in North Dakota had three jobs it would not move the national stats a decimal point.
Take a rest.
But you CAN make $60/hr stuffing envelopes at home. I can show you how. Just send me $10 and a stamped self addressed envelope. The first 100 respondents will also receive a guarateed way to flip real estate with NO NEED FOR CASH UP FRONT and make anywhere from $,5000 to $10,000 within two weeks. If you send $20, I’ll reveal the true secret of the Laffer Curve.
So why is Tyler Cowen not an investment banker? For that matter, why aren’t all of you?
Sorry, but the Nigerian guy who sent me an e-mail earlier today has a better deal. See, there’s 8 million dollars, unclaimed, sitting – you know what, I think I better keep this to myself.
I can’t speak for Tyler Cowen. Well, I can, but I probably wouldn’t be accurate and he I’m sure he would insist he’s not bound by what I’m saying and ruin it. So I’ll stick to speaking for me. I’m not an investment banker because, well, I don’t need to be. See, I have that deal with the Nigerian fellow I mentioned upthread…
Tyler Cowen has a nice, secure government job, Now whay Virginia tax payers haven’t forced him to be an investment banker…
There’s a serious housing shortage in North Dakota. People go out to the western part of the state to work in the oil fields and discover they have to live in their cars. You really do not want to live in a car in North Dakota in the winter.
I totally agree, but I’ve been up there a few times in the winter and its not fun. My favorite memory was trying to get a BUFF out of Minot ahead of the storm. We got to the jet with a foot of snow on the wings (which it got overnight), 5 maintainers on the wings with brooms getting it off and the de-icers working the horizontal stab. And this was BEFORE the blizzard hit! Fastest pre-flight ever and we started the engines as the de-icers continued their work and the snowplow pulled in front. I taxied out behind the plow all the way onto the runway and watched the plow disappear a few hunderd yards away into the whiteout. Fist-sized wet snowflakes were dropping and the wind was starting to really pick up. Finally tower told us the snowplow was off the runway and we could takeoff. By now I could just see the narrow plowed strip, the runway lights were buried, and I stayed on it until liftoff (visibility now under 50 ft and useless at 150 knots). We climbed above the storm and had a nice flight back to Texas and warmth. My LT co-pilot had never made a instrument take-off in his life and was amazed we made it (rookie!).
That was in March….
The guys doing trucking make their money with very low overhead as I understand. Basically live in the trucks/shanties and work 16-18 hours per day. Then go south in the winter and truck in normal areas. But its a young-mans game. Very tough on the body.
It is beuatiful country, especially western Montana, but its livable for only 3 months a year…YMMV.
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If someone had three jobs in North Dakota they would move the STATE statistics…
Islam will change
Instead of being unemployed, it’s better to learn something and to get the job. It would be good for the people living near North Dakota to join the driver training as there are so many requirement for driver as well as even the good pay is given to them.
Truck Driver Training
Im female. Im a driver in Columbus ohio . Ive been an otr over the road driver for 10 yrs.
Been everywhere. Now im based in columbus. I read most of the opening comments about Nd and trucking wages in general. I can add to the incentives scenario on the yearly income.
PER DIEM. Per diem discounted of your taxes is now 59.00 a day away from home base. My home base is Columbus Ohio, Im licensed in Ohio and once im 150 mi away from home..I add a day for everyday Im away working , sleeping, waiting etc. Last year I was otr away from home for 340 days. by choice. 59.00 x 340 days = $20060 reduction of taxes. My w2 income , (im a company driver.) was 56000, 3000 of that was vacation pay earned 3 wks. But 53k taxes on that..whew!! alot.. but my bottom line taxable net was only 29k..Im also a home owner . etc.. with that said.. when i first started checking into my new career 10 yrs ago.. i quickly found out taxes etc.. these recruiters would come to my school and boast those high figures you mentioned.. 50k first yr etc..I piped up..whoa..its more like 29k, i.e learning curve, weather, company ..break downs..an the 70mph x 40 hr week?..hahah.. its more like an avg of 49mph and an 80 hr work week. still..add 29k and 20060, theres yer 50k as the irs sees it.. you get the 59,00 a day whether incur those expense or not. I have a micro , tv fridge etc. so my weekly expenses are limited.. about 20 a day. smokes, coffee etc.
If any of this makes sense..then Ive done a good deed..The new dept of transportation rules and these companies will keep drivers out for atleast 10 to 14 days..i.e about every other weekend u get to go home..usually a late saturday nite to monday am. UNLESS..you missed your appt to deliver etc, or you broke down, or the hwy shut down due to storms etc. or..there is a more important load than your family needs..which is the hard facts about this business..gotta go where the money is and gotta run it like a ruff neck til the well runs dry..which it will. now today..mexican trucks coming across to work in the usa..this an add in state scales, loads not being shipped..no one has money to buy the stuff..and..again..mother nature.. just be safe, and eventually you will have home time or enough money to pay your bills and get caught up and find a better job..but..dont just quit..you will not get unemployment..and at times will have to pay back all those incentives they gave you to start working for them.. been there..its crappy to get your last check beat up by a hiring bonus..its supposed to be illegal to take all lump sum of the last check..but..THATS TRUCKING… you are not making money if the wheels aint turning, and if they go belly up and your away from home..they shut your fuel card off and tell you to take the truck somewhere and leave..period..if you dont..now prepare to pay towing for them to get the truck back to where they want it..at about 1.00 a mile to boot.. this is true if you just up and quit , …but..thats hopefully not in your future..just make the milage, bank the money, pay bills, and hopefully you have a great day..everyday being safe..and no tickets or break downs and the wind at your back..is a great day.. helping others and working as a team in alot of situations..priceless.. having your family support you and understand this is temporary as long as everyone works together and finds new creative ways to connect..and you have people you trust handling your money etc..other wise..send an allowance home, an let a pro handle your finances..namely you.. Ive seen soo many marriages fail and drivers go belly up in life..why? gambling, hookers, fines, ego, and..partners exploiting the funds because theyre lonely and neglected.. whew..i said waaaay too much.. all i mean […]
As the battle of transportation funds go on, there is a lot of drivers in need of jobs. Its hard finding places where there are Drivers wanted. Fortunately some companies assist in finding trucking jobs, for example, Trucking Partners.
I have driven over the road for 6 years now. Most new drivers do not last 3 months. Industry figures show that within one year of starting as truck drivers, only 1 out of 5 is still driving a truck. It’s a lousy job, all kinds of time pressures, constant harrassment by the cops, very hard to get good sleep, and much, much more. It’s just not for most people…. But most of the jobs in North Dakoda are for Frack Drivers; that is, hauling water and sand back and forth from oil and gas wells to EPA approved dumpsites. Some also carry the oil and gas ( great pay for that). These are not over the road jobs. This is Fracking, Hydraulic Fracturing, operations, extracting oil and gas from the shale thousands of feet deep. If you want a job there driving, you need some experience, and you need to go there. They want to see you in person. This is hard work and a very hard land. It’s pays pretty good, but most guys just cannot handle it, with the dirt roads, and snow and ice in the winter, and the trucks do get stuck, and you have to get it unstuck. If you are sitting in an office now, don’t even try it.
Thanks for the reality check. Guess it is not like the TV show “Movin On”
Whatever you do dont go to work for Missouri Basin Inc. as a truck driver. You get screwed over and you are driving in a ton of junk. They favor and hire people that are complete morons and get in accidents all the time. THEY ARE DANGEROUS!! MBI is a bad company to all the drivers out there. Their human resources needs to be slapped right along the face and fired for hiring idiots.
Why is it that I applied to all these companies here in western ND and they dont call? I applied for at least 25 companies now. I have a clean record, tons of tanker experience. I think these companies out here hire some pretty big dumb unqualified people to drive for them by the looks of it. I turned some in to DOT because of driving stupid. The guy who wrote a comment above this one is right, MBI is a bad company and they hire total idiots because human resources has their head up their asses there in Belfield. But anyway, if you dumbass trucking companies want people so bad why aint I getting called. Obvious you dont need people then.
My husband (a truck driver) just left North Dakota…we’ve been in the oil field for a couple of years…sure the jobs (driving) pay great but the cost of living takes all the “extra” that you’ll make..the housing is non-existant..there’s just no where to live unless your prepared to pay 3000 a month..2300 if your lucky..and if you think those prices will get you something great to live in, your sadly mistaken! And I haven’t even mentioned the crime rates that are rising, I carried two guns when I left the house..it’s not safe, it’s over priced, and more people are flooding in! good luck to ya if you go..but chances are..you’ll go back to where ever you came from!
That’s quite a theory you’ve got there on why people don’t get truck driver jobs. That would explain the lack of drivers in Ontario. I hope more people decide to get these kind of jobs, because they are needed for businesses to function. Thank you for sharing!
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