Some companies have reportedly decided to foot the bill for their employees’ gas expenses as prices at the pump have surged to all-time highs in recent weeks.

Companies are implementing gasoline stipends or passing 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 quitting their jobs in search of better opportunities.

One such company, the retailer Driftwood Garden Center in Florida, started doling out $30 gas stipends for part-time workers and $50 stipends for full-time workers this year, CEO Craig Hazelett told the Wall Street Journal in a report published Friday.

The company also provided 20% to 30% raises for its workforce in April.

“We almost had to do it or we risk losing a lot of very good employees,” Hazelett told the outlet.

The national average price of gas is hovering near $5 per gallon – adding a major expense for commuters just as many employers are pushing their “return to office” plans following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commuters are facing steep prices while returning to their offices.
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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 employee at National Life Group 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 definitely lets me know they care about their employees,” Griffin told the outlet.

Companies are weighing gas-related perks against the risk of a recession.
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Companies are also adopting methods such as debit cards with preloaded monthly balances and partial coverage of the cost of work-related driving, according to the report. Others, such as Cosmetic Specialty Labs in Oklahoma, has told commuters that live a certain distance away that they can work from home an extra day per week.

The steep price of gasoline was a key driver of inflation that climbed 8.6% in May – the sharpest rate since 1981. The cost of gasoline climbed 48.7% in May compared to the same month one year earlier.

Person buying gas
Gas prices are a key driver of inflation.
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Gas prices are one of many considerations for employers facing the possibility of cutbacks in the event of a recession.

The Federal Reserve’s move to hike interest rates has prompted increased fears of a slowdown – with firms in the cryptocurrency and real estate sectors already slashing jobs to account for the difficult conditions.

Several banks, including Citigroup, have warned of a heightened risk of recession.

Evan Cohen, an executive at Quality Marble & Granite in Ontario, California told the Journal that his company has held off on providing gas benefits with the long-term goal of avoiding layoffs in mind.

“I’d love to give out money and bonuses all the time,” Cohen said. “More importantly, I want to make sure people have a job to come to.”


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