High retirement rates and inefficiency in the trucking industry contribute to truck driver shortage. In the face of a tight labor market, companies can turn to truck driver recruitment services for additional skills and labor. As it is, shortage issues may be improved with greater efficiency and trucker productivity.
Truck Driver Shortage
The American Trucking Associations estimates the truck driver shortage will increase to 175,000 by 2026. This follows a continuous progressive trend from a shortage of just about 70,000 in 2018. The estimates are based on data on current shortages, projected demand, and expected driver retirement rate over the next ten years. It is expected that about 900,000 drivers will retire in this time.
One of the factors influencing the driver shortage is the current workforce’s demographic. The trucking industry is dependent on male employees over the age of 45. Unfortunately, this population is expected to retire within the next decade or two. The industry is in growing need of new and younger drivers to mitigate the large turnover rate brought by retirement.
The increasing truck driver shortage is especially problematic during peak holiday seasons when demand is higher than usual.
Effects of the Shortage
The shortage of truck drivers impacts various industries because trucking plays a key role in retail and commerce. Fewer drivers mean fewer goods can be transported from place to place in a timely fashion. Companies are limited in terms of amount they can provide. As a result, customers are offered with fewer supplies than they’re used to, both in stores and online.
The lack of drivers also delays orders and drives up the prices of goods because of increasing transportation costs. Freight costs are driven by increasing driver salaries and high gasoline prices.
The problem of driver shortage can be reduced with policy changes and greater efficiency within the industry.
Legislation and Regulation
The truck driver shortage can be resolved with improved legislation policies. For instance, there are regulations restricting drivers from operating across state lines until they are over 21. Lowering the minimum commercial truck driving age widens the pool of competent workers looking for a job within the trucking industry. Essentially, loosening this regulation reduces pressure on the tight labor market.
However, bringing in and allowing younger drivers to enter the industry does not completely solve the shortage problem. There are still high turnover rates in the midst of inefficiency and poor working conditions.
The trucking industry can combat the labor shortage by improving the efficiency of trucking as a whole. For example, independent or small business truckers usually end up driving empty trailers after they drop one off. In doing so, the driver wastes time waiting or driving to a new job. This inefficiency can be reduced if drivers have jobs lined up before they finish each job.
Truckers often have to wait several hours at shipper docks when they arrive. Efficient policies reduce the amount of time drivers are kept waiting, allowing them to spend more time actually driving.
It is expected that regulatory changes, improvements in efficiency, and the pressure to increase wages and attract more drivers will continue to combat the continuing labor shortage.