Some companies have reportedly moved to foot the bill for their employees’ gas expenses as prices at the pump have soared to all-time highs in recent weeks.
Companies are implementing gas allowances or handing out gift cards in a bid to keep their workers happy in what remains an extremely tight labor market, the Wall Street Journal reported. The national unemployment rate is just 3.6% and millions of Americans are still leaving their jobs in search of better opportunities.
One such company, retailer Driftwood Garden Center in Florida, this year began handing out $30 in gas allowances to part-time workers and $50 to full-time workers, CEO Craig Hazelett told the Wall Street Journal in a report released Friday.
The company also granted increases of 20 to 30% to its workforce in April.
“We almost had to or we risk losing a lot of really good employees,” Hazelett told the outlet.
The national average gasoline price hovers around $5 a gallon, representing a major expense for commuters, just as many employers push their ‘back to work’ plans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. .
Prices are even higher in some states, such as California, where the statewide average has exploded north of $6.30 per gallon.
Chase Griffin, a commuter and National Life Group employee in Dallas, Texas, told the Wall Street Journal that his company recently announced plans to provide workers with a $300 gas station gift card to help offset their expenses.
“Even though there were grumblings about having to go back to the office three days a week, it lets me know that they care about their employees,” Griffin told the outlet.
Companies are also adopting methods such as debit cards with pre-loaded monthly balances and partial coverage of the cost of business driving, according to the report. Others, like Cosmetic Specialty Labs in Oklahoma, have told commuters who live some distance away that they can work from home an extra day a week.
High gasoline prices were a key driver of inflation which soared 8.6% in May – the highest rate since 1981. The cost of gasoline soared 48.7% in May compared to the same month a year earlier.
Gasoline prices are one of many considerations for employers facing the possibility of cuts in the event of a recession.
The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates has sparked heightened fears of a slowdown – with companies in the cryptocurrency and real estate sectors already shedding jobs to accommodate the tough conditions.
Several banks, including Citigroup, have warned of an increased risk of recession.
Evan Cohen, an executive at Quality Marble & Granite in Ontario, Calif., told the Journal that his company delayed offering gas benefits with the long-term goal of avoiding layoffs.
“I would love to give away cash and bonuses all the time,” Cohen said. “Most importantly, I want to make sure people have a job coming up.”