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The truck driver shortage is a topic that is a reality that we have been living with during the past few years. Even though it has been trending lately, it’s not something new. The current issue is the effect the pandemic has on the workforce and how it’s shedding light on deeper supply chain issues.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1.5 million people employed in trucking, which is only 1% less than in October 2019.   

Even though it’s not something new, it is one of the most significant issues the industry faces, which can lead to further delays and supply chain challenges.  

As the American Trucking Association disclosed, there was a deficit of 80,000 drivers last year. According to the Department of Motor Vehicle, over 640 thousand people in California alone with a Class A and Class B driver’s license. But how many of these people work as truck drivers? Not many. Therefore, the issue does not lie in the ability of people to access a driver’s license; it lies in the motivation for them to become truck drivers or continue doing so for some time.   

Additionally, there are more retiring truck drivers than those entering the trucking industry, which causes a more significant imbalance. 

 

Reasons for the truck driver shortage 

 

Trucking deregulation 

Many argue that trucking deregulation definitely changed the entire industry. The drastic change of having just a few companies moving freight to anyone with a motor carrier authority led to rates and wages falling dramatically.   

As more carriers entered the industry, competition skyrocketed, and compensations for employees started to fall. For instance, nowadays, truck drivers get paid 40% less than they did in the late 1970s but are twice as productive.    

 Truck allocation 

Another big issue that’s causing delays and overall challenges is truck allocation. There may be a “shortage” of drivers overall, but the issue is allocating the asset(s).   

For example, there could be 1,000 assets in the Atlanta, GA market at a given time, but the capacity is needed in Los Angeles, CA. An asset can only be in one physical location at a time. When supply is high in one area, it may be down in another, but that does not mean trucks are there.   

Overall conditions of the trucking career 

It is known that the trucking career may be stressful, lonely, and physically demanding. And even though the Government invested in paying more people to attend truck driving school ($11.7 million in California during 2020 through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) still, most students didn’t end up becoming truck drivers.   

  These are just some of the reasons:  

  • Time away from home  
  • Low salaries  
  • Non-attractive incentives  
  • The overall demand for the job   

   

For the industry to leave these issues behind, it’s essential to understand them to know exactly what to do. Finding ways to attract and retain drivers, planning and allocating assets better, decreasing the age to 18 for some types of transport to draw more drivers in, and improving the overall experience of being a truck driver are some of the strategies companies are looking at in hopes of overcoming the disruption.   

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