Opinion: Gas prices and young workers

While there may be a stigma with public transit, it has never been able to save as much as it does now.  
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/keyonnamdar/" target="_self">Keyon Namdar</a>

Keyon Namdar

July 30, 2022
At the beginning of July, the California state minimum wage officially increased to $15 per hour. It couldn’t have come at a better time for young workers. Considering that, also in California, the price of gasoline is currently sitting at an average of $5.66 per gallon, as of July 28.

However, the question remains if it is enough to cover the inflated gas costs and, if not, how can young people minimize the impact?

Estimates have placed California’s average cumulative driving distance at just over 45 miles per day, according to Research Gate. Doing some quick calculations, assuming an average mpg of 24, the amount spent on gasoline per week would be approximately $77. For young people just entering the workforce, this represents 13% of weekly gross pay at the new minimum wage working a 40-hour week.

The impact would be worse for those working part-time, especially students. It seems as if the minimum wage gains have effectively been wiped out by inflation. 

Younger workers, namely student workers, must find a way to offset these cost increases until the price of gasoline finds its way back into the normal range.

Someone working a full-time schedule should reach out to co-workers and find those with the same schedule to begin a carpool. The more people involved, the better. Individuals may be quick to dismiss the idea of carpooling, but a four-person carpool could save up to $200 per month depending on driving distance.

Once someone presents these types of savings to co-workers, they may be able to entice more to join them in savings. Not to mention the impact of reduced carbon emissions. Job selection may be an even more critical decision for young workers.

Remote job offerings are up over 12%, according to CNBC, with many that do not require a college degree. In these times of rampant price increases, it would be beneficial to pursue remote positions to save money on a monthly budget. Even though it doesn’t allow for interaction with co-workers at an interpersonal level, if it is looked at as a temporary position while fuel prices are high, it can be easier to accept. 

The part-time student worker faces unique challenges since they are less likely to find a remote schedule for part-time work and will not work a consistent schedule that is conducive to carpooling with co-workers. Job selection is the best way to minimize the cost of fuel while prices are so high.

Students should look for part-time work within either walking distance or, more likely, within biking distance. The health benefits of switching to walking or biking to work should add extra incentive to young people. For those that do not want to take the more active trip to work, the best option would be to utilize public transit.

California is a national leader in public transportation, according to CalSTA, so there should be ample opportunities to use the bus or light rail to reach a destination within walking distance. Park and ride are other promising opportunities for a hybrid solution to save money.

While there may be a stigma with public transit, it has never been able to save as much as it does now.  

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