5 Reasons The Trucking Industry Is Experiencing a Shortage of Drivers

February 10, 2015 by Nick Mason

In today’s economy, if an industry has 25,000 open positions that no one is willing to fill, it’s a problem. Trucking is a vital aspect of the U.S. economy and a deficit of drivers has the potential to hold back overall industry growth. According to the American Trucking Associations, carriers are struggling to find qualified candidates to get behind the wheel. Here are the top reasons why:

1. Low Wages

In order to convince someone to live on the road for the majority of their career, you have to provide proper compensation. According to the New York Times, if you factor in inflation, truckers are actually earning less than they did a decade ago. Since other industries that require the same skill level are paying similar wages, truck driving is no longer a job that is in high demand. For the same amount of pay, workers can find careers in other industries, such as technology, communications, energy or manufacturing.

2. Lack of Industry Interest

There are a lot of sacrifices that are involved with living as a truck driver and, until recently, trucking companies have put enough effort into capturing the interests of younger people entering the workforce or looking for a career change. A small number of companies are now starting to offer incentives to try to lure in new drivers, but it may take a bit more creativity and compensation to convince people to join the trucking lifestyle.

3. Truck-Driving Lifestyle

With generations becoming more socially aware and quality-of-life conscious, many people are changing the way they spend their time and focusing on what they really value. Since truck drivers are no longer being paid a premium wage when compared to other similarly skilled jobs, there’s not much to motivate potential employees to choose a job as a truck driver and spend a career on the road. Job seekers can earn the same amount of money living in a fixed location and spending more time with family and friends.

4. New Driver Regulations

As of 2013, the federal government has implemented Hours of Service Regulations to help reduce the amount of deaths associated with large truck and bus incidents. The new federal regulations have put systems in place that limit the amount of time drivers can spend behind the wheel. Surveys performed by the American Transportation Research Institute show that the regulations are actually causing a loss of productivity and reducing the amount of money drivers are earning. This has the potential to cut profit margins even thinner, making it harder to hire, train, and retain drivers for a decent wage.

5. Current Driver Demographic

Although the average age of truck drivers is 46 years old, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high percentage of drivers are baby boomers between the ages of 55 and 65. This means that many of the experienced truckers are now nearing retirement, a fact that is only compounding the shortage problem. This also isn’t very encouraging to younger people entering the workforce, since only roughly 8 percent of drivers are 25 to 29 years old.

Trucking is the lifeblood of the U.S. logistics and transportation industry and until trucking companies can recruit younger drivers, it’s likely that the shortage of truckers will continue to grow. Experts say that increasing wages will solve all of the issues associated with the shortage, so let’s hope pay rises and drivers begin filling seats.

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