Cab Driver Suicide Rates Spike due to Financial Burdens
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Financial Burdens Cause Spike in Suicides Among Cab Drivers

The American dream is turning out to be a nightmare.

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Financial Burdens Cause Spike in Suicides Among Cab Drivers

The first and only time I have ever used a taxi was in Florida whilst on vacation with my family. I was probably about 12 years old and had never seen a taxi in real life before. In fact, I thought they only existed in New York and in movies. My taxi driver was a very old white man who looked like he was probably in his late sixties and had been driving the same vehicle for over twenty years.

If I were in New York City instead of somewhere in Florida, my taxi experience may have been a little different. Taxi driving is known to be a low-skill immigration job, as ninety-one percent of New York City's professional drivers are immigrants as of 2016. Immigrating to New York City and becoming a taxi driver used to be a hopeful way for immigrants to make a living and support their families, but recently, the market has shifted.

The rise of transportation apps such as Uber and Lyft have made it easier than ever for consumers to get a ride at a cheaper price. Instead of hailing or chasing down a cab, you can push a button on your phone. Instead of being charged by the meter you pay a flat rate, depending on the app. The success of today's newest technology has left the low-wage labor market of classic taxi drivers in a state of despair, and for some, even desperation.

From December of 2017 to May of 2018, five licensed professional drivers took their own lives. The growing financial struggles of being a cab driver in big cities have driven workers over the edge. Even after working ten to fourteen hours shifts, workers are still not making enough to outrun hunger and poverty. Although New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has tried to cap the number of app-driven transportation services on the road, his attempts have failed. The city council is still desperately trying to push bills through to regulate the industry and bring it back under control.

Uber released a statement saying they are in support of actions that "ease [cab drivers] financial burden" but it does not look like the company will be changing anything any time soon to lessen the hit on yellow taxi drivers or even the playing field.

The United States was founded on the idea of a place where anyone could come and live the American dream. Technological advancements seem to be turning the dream into a nightmare as more and more low-wage workers are falling into financial struggles they cannot climb out of.

It is possible that this phenomenon could discourage people from immigrating to the country's bigger cities, thus leaving a small few to take control of immigrant-based jobs and create new problems for the economy. If you or a friend would like to take action and help fight for a livable wage among career drivers, click here.

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