July 25, 2005

Does WM Have Too Many White Truck Drivers?

Wal-Mart Watch, The New York Times (in full), and Liza Featherstone note that Tommy Armstrong, a black man refused a job as a Wal-Mart trucker, is suing for alleged racial discrimination. I agree that the particular cases show a large potential for Wal-Mart managers having discriminated against these men. But beyond that the cases seem shoddy.

Still, one of the most powerful statistics listed is that 15% of the US trucking force is black, but only 2-3% of Wal-Marts trucking force is. I wonder if anybody even bothered to check the source and veracity of those statistics. Let's try.

Let's suppose the 15% statistic to be true. The first question we have to ask ourselves is, "why are blacks so heavily overrepresented as truckers?" After all, in 2000 African Americans were 11.3% of the 18 or over population, but 15% of truckers. Are most trucking companies biased against white people, hispanics, and asians? Actually, no. According to Table 2.5 of a study of the trucker shortage(!), blacks make up 11.7% of the trucking industry's drivers. That makes a lot more sense to me, but it is still far higher than Wal-Mart's alleged 2%.

Ms. Featherstone, this is evidence of racism, but the real question is the geographic base of Wal-Mart's jobs compared to the rest of the sector's jobs. If it is true, as stated above, that most trucking jobs are metro area related, but

In 2002, there were 2.8 million truck drivers:

Most truck drivers find employment in large metropolitan areas along major interstate roadways where major trucking, retail, and wholesale companies have distribution outlets. Some drivers work in rural areas, providing specialized services such as delivering newspapers to customers or coal to a railroad.

The truck transportation industry employed almost one-quarter of all truck drivers and driver/sales workers in the United States. Another quarter worked for companies engaged in wholesale or retail trade. The remaining truck drivers and driver/sales workers were distributed across many industries, including construction and manufacturing.

Over 10 percent of all truck drivers and driver/sales workers were self-employed. Of these, a significant number were owner-operators who either served a variety of businesses independently or leased their services and trucks to a trucking company.

There are about 1.5 million heavy tractor-trailer truckers.

Also, isn't Wal-Mart the largest trucking company? Doesn't that imply that the

Posted by Kevin on July, 25 2005 at 11:58 AM