America is facing a shortage of truck drivers. This shortage of drivers in the trucking industry is causing retailers to delay shipments of nonessential items or to pay higher prices to ensure their goods are delivered on schedule. A large number of goods in America are moved throughout the country by truck. As the demand for goods increases, the demand for drivers has also been rising — yet the supply of truck drivers has been dropping.
So, what has caused this shortage of truck drivers, and what does this truck driver shortage mean for consumers and retailers in America?
Why Is the Number of Truck Drivers Decreasing?
What is causing this truck driver shortage? Why is the trucking industry struggling to attract drivers? Though shortages happen from time to time with economic trends, the shortage has peaked in recent years — and it’s only expected to get worse.
Many are predicting that the truck driver shortage in America is going to double during the next decade. Already, the U.S. is struggling with a deficit of tens of thousands of drivers. The main causes of the truck driver shortage are:
1. Tight Labor Economy
America currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates its seen in decades. While this is great for the country and its citizens as a whole, for trucking companies, this means new recruits have become more difficult to find. When the county has a tight labor market, there are fewer unemployed people to fill available driver positions.
2. Aging Drivers
In the trucking industry, the shortage is most apparent for long-haul drivers. The average age of long-haul drivers is nearing 50, and because these workers are driving and away from home for several weeks at a time, the positions are more difficult to fill.
As many of the current drivers will be retiring in the not-too-distant future, demand is going to significantly increase for long-haul drivers, but successfully recruiting for these positions can be challenging.
3. Barriers for Young Drivers
Currently, drivers must be 21 in order to cross state lines. Because of this barrier, trucking companies cannot recruit anyone between the ages of 18 and 20 for driving that requires crossing state lines. Young people are unable to drive right out of high school and instead find employment in other fields. After being hired and trained in one field, many workers want to stay employed in that field, which makes recruiting these young people even more difficult for the trucking industry.
On an operational level, the truck driver shortage has become a pain for many trucking companies and retailers. If the shortage continues, consumers will also be facing real issues caused by this driver shortage. This is an issue in the trucking industry that could become a significant problem for all Americans.
How to Avoid the Driver Shortage
If the shortage of truck drivers doesn’t change, the trucking industry in America could find itself short more than 100,000 new drivers in just a few years. So how can trucking companies retain their current drivers and attract new ones to avoid underemployment?
1. Remove Barriers for Younger Drivers
One of the ways the trucking industry can avoid a driver shortage is by removing barriers for young drivers. The American Trucking Associations is currently proposing to lower the commercial driving age from 21 to 18 for drivers who can drive across state lines. This will allow trucking companies to recruit in high schools and increase the pool of potential candidates.
Young people will be able to start working in the industry right out of high school rather than be forced to choose a different field.
2. Attract More Demographic Diversity
One of the key demographics lacking in the trucking industry is women. Men comprise the vast majority of the drivers in the trucking industry. Since men make up only about half of the U.S. population, trucking companies are already at a significant disadvantage for their pool of interested candidates.
Since women make up a very small portion of drivers, many companies are looking for ways to recruit more women. One of the ways companies are attempting to recruit more women is by incorporating technology into trucks that makes them easier and more comfortable to drive.
3. Construct an Easy Transition for Veterans
Unemployed veterans are an excellent pool of candidates for the trucking industry, which is why many trucking companies are working on programs to attract and accommodate veterans. The skills veterans developed in the military often overlap with the skills that truck drivers need. Veterans are tech-savvy, hard workers and self-disciplined, and many have worked with heavy equipment. Some also already possess commercial driver’s licenses.
4. Increase Incentives
Many trucking companies have already begun increasing incentives to attract new drivers. One incentive has been the introduction of minimum weekly pay. This gives drivers a more consistent paycheck. Companies should also be incentivizing candidates with sign-on bonuses and benefits to be competitive with other industries.
Many of the industry’s current truck drivers are aging out and retiring. The projected number of job openings for 2018 to 2028 is more than 200,000. To keep up with the demand caused by the shortage, the industry needs to hire many new drivers during the next decade.
Tips for Retaining Current Truck Drivers
Beyond recruiting new drivers, trucking companies should also ensure they’re keeping their current truck drivers. Here are a few tips for retaining current truck drivers in your company:
1. Increase Pay
An increase in pay has already been happening across the industry, and the increase has been a considerable one in the past few years. The current median pay rate is $21.00 per hour, which means truck drivers can make a good living — even during their first year of employment.
Historically, truck drivers haven’t been paid this well, which may be why there is a lack of awareness among Americans about the pay they can expect as a truck driver. Since the job can be demanding, incentivizing drivers with quality pay is crucial to ensuring your employees stick around.
2. Address Lifestyle Factors
Another way for trucking companies to retain their drivers is by addressing lifestyle factors. Drivers may want more time at home or reduced wait times at facilities. Consider the demands and problems that drivers face, such as long hours and fatigue, and create solutions that can provide drivers with some relief.
Keep Your Trucking Company in Compliance With US Compliance Services
Are you a manager, supervisor or contractor for a trucking company? If so, you understand the importance of following compliance procedures in the U.S. to keep drivers and cargo safe. To stay compliant, your company needs to be filing compliance registration forms and keeping up-to-date on the compliance laws set by the Department of Transportation.
Juggling compliance, along with all of the other daily tasks and responsibilities of running a trucking company, can be a challenge for many business owners and managers. To make your job a bit easier, contact us at US Compliance Services. We’re a trucking compliance management service, and we’ll keep your fleet on track.