Despite all of the economic optimism that has accompanied the end of the recession, one large issue looms present in virtually every industry nationwide.
There is a significant shortage of truck drivers in the United States.
Reuters reports that the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has declared that the United States’ trucking industry has a shortage of about 35,000 drivers. This poses a serious issue, as the trucking industry is one of the most crucial cogs in the American economy. Naturally, it doesn’t really matter if the economy is thriving if there is nobody to transport goods and physically conduct the trade that accompanies economic prosperity.
What is perhaps more concerning is that the ATA predicts that the shortfall in drivers will grow substantially, and reach 240,000 unfilled positions by the year 2020.
Why the shortage? The average truck driver is in their late forties and fifties, according to CCJ. Therefore in the next decade, nearly half of current truck drivers will be of retirement age. What furthers the problem is that for some reason, the younger generations are not becoming truck drivers, which means the shortage is only going to increase in the coming years.
What does this mean for the economy, and for those in the trucking industry?
Well, for those who depend on trucking and shipping agencies to move goods, it means that the rates of transportation are going to skyrocket. For current truckers, that will come as good news. They are in high demand and short supply, which means higher pay.
According to Reuters, the average earning of truck drivers per mile is up 8% to nearly $1.80 per mile, and in certain types of shipping, is approximately $1.92. Drivers across the board are earning more money. Swift Transportation, the largest truckload carrier in North America, told Business Insider that in one business quarter of last year, they had to increase their total payroll for drivers from $238.1 million to $223.9 million- a $14.2 million increase, all in the matter of a few months.
So, economically speaking, the severity of the driver shortage is clear. For all industries that rely on truckers to ship their goods, it is bad news. Conducting standard business operations is about to get really expensive. But for truckers, the news isn’t half bad, as they have higher wages to look forward to.