Every trucking company in America, from the smallest fleet of two or three trucks to carriers with household names, face the same problem: finding and hiring drivers.
The driver shortage is real. The numbers fluctuate from month to month and the difference between qualified and quality drivers muddies the waters, but no one disagrees, America needs more drivers. The American Trucking Association estimated the industry was short nearly 50,000 drivers at the end of last year. Estimates from the association skyrocket to eight figures in the coming decades. To answer the shortfall and to account for retirement and turnover, the ATA estimates the industry will need to attract 900,000 over the next 10 years. That’s more than the population of nearly 40 of the top 50 largest cities in America.
The need is real. If you eat it, wear it or sit on it, a truck brought it. More than 70% of all goods in the United States are moved by truck at some point in the distribution chain. Railroads can’t just pull up to the loading dock behind Wal-Mart, and Uber hasn’t found as many available trucks to replace for-hire fleets as they did with taxi drivers.
The general public has not yet taken notice, but some unusual sources have started to spread the word. Last last year, the Wall Street Journal, best known for its financial reporting and stock indexes, reported the shortage of truck drivers was weighing on the earnings and growth potential of trucking companies. With nobody to drive the freight, companies can’t expand. National Public Radio reported on the issue last month, echoing the same concerns.
Trucking companies have known about this issue for years. And many of them have taken steps to address the problem. Many have raised pay and many have resorted to incentives such as sign-on bonuses and performance pay. . The measures to attract drivers have become more dramatic with the upturn in the economy. Commercial Carrier Journal and other trade publications have reported bonuses as high as $50,000.00.
Everyone from trucking company executives to recruiters knows the problem. No one seems to know the answer. There doesn’t seem to be one answer.
That’s why I started the Big Truck Job Fair. This is a forum – both online and in person – to bring together trucking companies with positions to fill and candidates with skills to match those jobs. And be on the lookout for upcoming fairs.
J. Ward Best