Trucking Shortage Spikes, With 60K+ Drivers Still Needed
ARLINGTON, VA - It appears the industry is no closer to emerging from the trucking crisis. While leading industry members like Walmart and Allen Lund Company doubled down last year to propose solutions and implement new strategies to attract and retain truck drivers, labor is still low—with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) reporting that the shortage has even spiked, reaching its highest levels to date.
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve watched the shortage rise and fall with economic trends, but it ballooned last year to the highest level we’ve seen to date,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The combination of a surging freight economy and carriers’ need for qualified drivers could severely disrupt the supply chain. The increase in the driver shortage should be a warning to carriers, shippers, and policymakers because if conditions don’t change substantively, our industry could be short just over 100,000 drivers in five years and 160,000 drivers in 2028.”
In a report released this month, ATA found that the industry needed 60,800 more drivers at the end of 2018 to meet the demands for freight services. The bulk of the shortage was found primarily in the over-the-road for-hire truckload market. The report also noted what factors continue to contribute to the lack of drivers, including an aging driver population, increases in freight volumes, and competition from other blue-collar careers.
“The trucking industry needs to find ways to attract more and younger drivers,” Costello continued. “Whether by removing barriers for younger drivers to begin careers as drivers, attracting more demographic diversity into the industry, or easing the transition for veterans, we need to do more to recruit and retain drivers. That includes increasing pay, which happened at a brisk pace last year, to keep pace with demand, addressing lifestyle factors like getting drivers more time at home, and improving conditions on the job like reducing wait times at shipper facilities.”
As of now, in order to meet the nation’s freight demand, the association asserted that the trucking industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade. This amounts to an average of 110,000 drivers per year. What strategies will retailers and policymakers continue to enact in order to reverse the current trucking crisis? AndNowUKnow will continue to report.