Truckers drive the American economy by holding supply chains together and hauling 70 percent of the nation's freight—about 10.5 billion tons annually. However, the trucking industry is confronting a driver shortage with many contributing factors making it difficult to find, hire, and retain drivers.
Here are some numbers behind the shortage fleets are facing today:
The driver shortage
- According to the ATA, the industry faced a shortage of nearly 50,000 drivers in 2017.
- If the trend continues at its current pace, the industry could be short by more than 174,000 drivers by 2026.
- At the start of 2018, there was only one truck available for every load needing to be shipped – the lowest ratio since 2005.
The industry could be short by more than 174,000 drivers by 2026.
Factors impacting the shortage
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55; meaning many are retiring faster than younger drivers can be hired.
- The age minimum for a commercial truck driver is 21 but the job doesn’t require higher education. This causes a 3-year gap after finishing high school during which prospective young drivers may get lured to other fields.
- The trucking industry struggles to attract female drivers:
- In 2016, only 6% of drivers were women, representing just a 1.5% increase in female drivers during the past 15 years.
Wages and the driver shortage
- Driver compensation has increased by only 6.3% in the last five years.
- In the same amount of time, the U.S. minimum wage has increased by 45.26%, and the income for a worker at McDonald’s has gone up 94%.
- A 1% increase in construction wages corresponds with a 3.5% reduction in trucking employment. This might suggest that construction is a more attractive field to prospective workers.
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Sources: American Trucking Associations; FleetOwner; Business Insider; JOC; Heavy Duty Trucking Info