Five Facts on the US Truck Driver Shortage

The Big Insight: Regulatory changes could help alleviate a trucker shortage making our supply chain problems worse.

There are many causes of the ongoing supply chain slowdowns impacting the U.S., but one of them is a shortage of truckers, who move the bulk of goods to stores and consumers. Many jobs are being posted, but onerous certification and age requirements are preventing some of them from being filled.

1. According to the American Truckers Association, the U.S. currently faces an all-time high shortage of 80,000 truckers.

The group’s chief economist says that number could more than double within the current decade.

2. Four million job postings for trucking positions in 2021 required a Commercial Driver’s License at a minimum — and many also sought past professional experience.

This certification need was one reason why carriers posted nine job listings for every one actual hire. CDL classes can cost $5,000 or more. In 2020, the state of California paid $11.7 million to truck driving schools in the state to help train drivers — about five times what the state allocated in 2019.

3. Four out of five U.S. truckers are over age 45 — and nearly one in four are over age 55.

Younger workers are not entering the trucking industry at a rate high enough to replace the aging driver workforce — just 20% of truckers are under age 45. While younger workers are entering the logistics sector, most are gravitating towards warehousing, not transport. The age minimum of 21 for drivers also prevents many interested young people from entering the field.

4. Turnover for truck drivers in fleets with more than $30 million of annual revenue was 92% at the end of 2020.

This retention issue is due in part to the fact that drivers make about 40% less in real dollars now than they did 50 years ago, even though productivity has doubled. Collin Long of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told Fox Business, “We think the biggest problem, as far as driver workforce, is retention.”

5. The Transportation Department projected last year that ground freight totals will rise by 50% by 2050 to 28.7 billion tons.

Trucks transport more than two-thirds of this freight. Drivers are needed to keep these goods flowing to consumers.

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