Driving isn’t the only tough job in trucking

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Updated Feb 3, 2020

A shifting economy and a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs has led to steady growth in employment – and wages – in those fields in the U.S. But as important and well-paying as those jobs are, employment numbers and wage growth for construction workers and laborers has still outpaced STEM jobs for the last half-decade, according to recent data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Between 2013 and 2018, STEM wages climbed an average annual rate of 2.1%, while wages for construction workers and laborers jumped by 3%.

It takes a certain type of person to take on manual labor for 40-plus hours per week – and may God bless every one of them – but showing a preference to grind out a work day and simply finish the task at hand requires a lot of a person, physically.

In December, we covered the point that trucking is one of the deadliest jobs in the U.S. with 927 “heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers” lost in the line of duty last year. However, transportation also plays a role in one of the most physically demanding jobs, according to recent analysis from InsuranceProviders.com.

While demands associated with climbing into a cab are well documented, often overlooked are the workplace hazards faced by warehousers and the people who actually get the freight on and off the truck.

laborers and material handlers, #19 in the overall level of physical demands for different jobs based on strength, stamina, coordination and flexibility

To identify the most physically demanding jobs, InsuranceProviders.com researchers looked at data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) and created an index to measure the overall level of physical demands for different jobs based on strength, stamina, coordination and flexibility.

Truck drivers didn’t even crack the Top 100, but laborers and material handlers – which includes warehouse employees – snuck in at No. 19. With a total employment of 2,893,180 workers, not only were hand laborers and material movers the most common job on the list but they also had the lowest annual wage at $30,890.

If lumping around boxes and equipment that can weigh hundreds of pounds isn’t the most physically demanding job, you’re probably wondering what is, right? Dancer.

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With an overall physical demand index of 97.0 and a stamina index, flexibility index and coordination index each pegged out at 100, dancing sits atop the list of most physically demanding job. With an annual salary of $43,000 to boot.

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].