If you’re having a hard time finding truck drivers, you’re not alone.
The American trucking industry is short an astonishing 80,000 drivers, according to Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
The U.S. trucking industry already faced a significant labor shortage of some 61,500 drivers before the COVID-19 pandemic. But since then, the shortfall has increased by another 30%.
Spear attributes the shortage to drivers retiring or quitting the industry – and it’s happening at the worst possible time. U.S. ports are backed up, which is creating problems throughout the nation’s supply chain. And why are ports backlogged? It’s largely because there aren’t enough truck drivers to pick up the cargo.
The ATA projects that if nothing is done to address the nationwide shortage of truck drivers, the labor shortfall will increase to 160,000 operators by 2030, and as a result, the industry will need one million new drivers over the next decade.
Spear believes a solution to the problem is changing federal law to allow for younger drivers. Tucked in the infrastructure bill awaiting action by the U.S. Congress is a provision authorizing a pilot program allowing up to 3,000 drivers from the ages of 18 to 20 to operate tractor-trailers across state lines. Under current law, cross-state operators must be at least 21 years old.
What to do: Start planning now to recruit younger drivers. If the infrastructure bill passes, you want to have a ready pipeline of young drivers as soon as you can – and before your competitors do.
(From the Nov. 8, 2021, issue of Transportation Manager’s Dispatch. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)