In 2018, the trucking industry was short roughly 60,800 drivers – up nearly 20% from 2017. If current trends hold, the American Trucking Association (ATA) says the trucker shortage could rise to more than 160,000 by 2028.
The driver shortage is a problem not just for the greenhouse industry, for the entire supply chain, as 71.4% of all freight tonnage is moved on the nation’s highways, based on information in ATA’s Truck Driver Shortage Analysis 2019 report.
“The increase in the driver shortage should be a warning to carriers, shippers, and policymakers, because if conditions don’t change substantially, our industry could be short just over 100,000 drivers in five years,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.
To meet the U.S. demand, the trucking industry must hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers, or an average of nearly 110,000 per year, to replace retiring drivers and keep on pace with economic growth.
The trucking industry has a relatively high average age of the existing workforce, according to the ATA. The average driver age in the for-hire, over-the-road truckload industry is 46. Other trucking sectors such as less-than-truckload and private carriers have an even higher average age.
Over the last couple of years, it’s been a challenge to find any new drivers, much less qualified ones.
“Employees today want the perfect workday scenario with evenings off, but that’s not conducive for the demand of transportation needs,” says Brian Stoller, Owner of Stoller Trucking in Gridley, IL. “It’s a change we’re all seeing across the U.S. It’s hard to find good qualified workers, and truck driving falls right into that.”
In addition, the trucking industry struggles to attract all segments of the population. In 2018, only about 7% of the drivers were women. In 2018, 40% were minorities.