Data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggests the number of American truckers is at an all-time high, with approximately 3.5 million men and women delivering goods across the country. However, industry insiders say these numbers are misleading, and in reality, America’s truck driver shortage continues to grow.
The American Trucking Association’s Chief Economist, Bob Costello, notes that even though driver numbers are on the rise, a shortage still persists across the industry because there aren’t enough new truck drivers entering the market to keep up with demand. This is especially true in the over-the-road-for-hire truckload market, where drivers are asked to spend weeks at a time on the road.
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers to put things into perspective. At the end of 2018, the ATA reports it was short 60,800 truck drivers—an increase of nearly 20% from 2017 when the shortage was 50,700. Experts say if the decline continues at this rate, the trucking industry could be short 100,000 drivers by 2024 and 160,000 drivers by 2028.
Why are truck drivers so hard to come by?
The American Trucking Association points to three factors contributing to America’s truck driver shortage:
- Older drivers are reaching retirement age
- Freight volumes are increasing
- Interest in other blue-collar careers
The problem isn’t expected to get better anytime soon either. In fact, the ATA says the industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers just to keep pace during the course of the next decade.
What can the trucking industry do?
Admittedly, these numbers paint a bleak picture, but not all hope is lost. The ATA made a list of recommendations in its report that can help trucking companies keep up with demand. Some of these suggestions include:
- Removing barriers for young drivers
- Increasing pay
- Attracting a more diverse group of drivers
- Easing transition for veterans
- And more!
If you’re interested in taking a closer look the numbers, click here.