Everyone from CEOs to truck drivers to professors have argued about the existence of a “truck driver shortage” in the $800 billion trucking industry for years.
Truck drivers say it doesn’t exist, while executives have consistently highlighted the truck driver shortage as one of their biggest problems. The American Trucking Associations estimated in 2019 that the US will be short 100,000 drivers in five years, and 160,000 drivers by 2028.
To settle the debate, Business Insider asked three CEOs and two economists why the trucking labor market is broken, and how to fix it.
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America’s $800 billion trucking industry has a labor problem.
As recently as 2018, large trucking companies were seeing turnover rates up to 97%. The median age for a truck driver hovers around the early 50s. And most trucking companies say they can’t get millennials or Gen Zs in the driver seat. For that reason, many executives say America is in the throes of a “truck driver shortage.”
Truck drivers, analysts, and economists have pushed back on that label. Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published a paper that argued there’s no such thing as a truck driver shortage — just a lack of people who want to work 70 hours a week for a job that pays $43,600 annually.
Truck drivers agree — and many of them point to their tumbling take-home pay. A Business Insider analysis found that median wages for truck drivers had decreased by 21% on average since 1980, while in some areas they’d declined by as much as 50%. “People want this job, but they can’t do it and support their family,” truck driver Will Kling told Business Insider.
“To be able to be a truck driver used to be quite a good blue-collar, middle-class job, but over the past 40 years, it has kind of dwindled away,” Gordon Klemp, principal of the National Transportation Institute, told Business Insider in 2018.
Elsewhere in the blue-collar and the retail sector, a labor shortage is also embroiling executives as unemployment hits record lows. It’s driven companies like Taco Bell to offer six-figure salaries to managers and Target to bump its minimum pay to $15 an hour.
Major trucking companies boosted pay in 2018 and early 2019. Most notably, Walmart started paying first-year truck drivers $87,500 per year.
But, trucking companies have seriously struggled with recruiting and retaining workers for far longer than fast food or big-box retailers. The “truck driver shortage” has been a concern for trucking companies since 2005, according to the American Trucking Associations.
The American Transportation Research Institute’s annual survey shows that trucking companies said in October 2019 that the truck driver shortage is their No. 1 issue, followed by retention and hours of service (HOS) rules. Meanwhile, truck drivers pointed to compensation as their No. 1 concern, followed by HOS and truck parking.
There’s certainly a flaw in the trucking labor market. But no …read more
Source:: Business Insider