Sikhs, finding religious freedom on the road, take outsize role in American trucking

The trucking industry has attracted generations of Americans by offering good salaries for work that allows drivers to essentially be their own bosses. That workplace freedom has drawn many Sikhs in the Sikh American community to pursue trucking, reports Religion News Service

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Mintu Pandher from Wyoming - Photo: 10-4 Magazine

Mintu Pandher from Wyoming – Photo: 10-4 Magazine

By Joseph Hammond | Religion News Service  |

More and more of America’s truck drivers are wearing turbans, as a growing community of Punjabi-born drivers, the majority of whom are Sikhs, play an increasingly outsize role in one of America’s fastest-growing industries. 

The trucking industry has attracted generations of Americans by offering good salaries for work that allows drivers to essentially be their own bosses. That workplace freedom has drawn many Sikhs in the Sikh American community to pursue trucking. Beginning in the early 1990s and picking up steam after 2009, Sikhs have become an important part of the U.S. trucking scene. 

“For many Sikhs, trucking offers independence,” said Satnam Singh, a finance specialist at Global Truck Loans in Westborough, Massachusetts, and a Sikh. “You can pray whenever you want and you can observe the articles of faith. And like any other recent immigrant community, they want to work hard and earn good money.”

According to Singh, there are more than 800,000 Sikhs in the United States, a little more than 2% of the population. But of those, as many as 270,000 are either directly involved in trucking or, like Singh, involved in the many supporting service industries that help keep those behind the wheel moving. Prior to the pandemic, nearly 6% of all full-time jobs in America were in the trucking industry, according to the app Trucker Path. More than 40% of those jobs are held by minorities. 

Sikhs have long been involved in trucking in India and translated their experience to the American road when, in the 1980s, many Sikhs fled persecution in India for safety in the United States and Canada.

For the most part, Sikhs have become not only accepted but valued in the trucking community. In the ‘Age of Amazon,’ when more and more Americans expect globally produced goods to be available on their doorstep within days, if not hours, there is a growing demand for drivers. Some project the trucking industry will need to add 900,000 new drivers by 2027.

Read the full story here.

RELATED STORY:

Spotlight on American desi truck drivers (Asia Samachar, 21 April 2019)

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond.Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

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