People working in many industries fear they will be replaced by new technology or robotics. Unlike workers in other sectors, truckers aren’t losing any sleep because the national driver shortage has already hit a critical point.
On top of the current labor shortfall, experts see the current gap growing into a crisis over the next decade. Every economic indicator points to CDL holders and local delivery drivers becoming an even hotter commodity in the coming years. The workforce can anticipate fast-rising wages and increased benefits.
Truck Driver Shortage Has Hit A Tipping Point
Upwards of 70 percent of all American goods are transported by truck. That is an astonishing figure when you consider the country has more than 325 million people who rely on products arriving at supermarkets, retail outlets, restaurants, and their doorstep every day. Truck drivers are the life blood of the United States and the roads, bridges and highways are its arteries.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, nearly 2 million men and women drive tractor trailers professionally and the workforce is already down more than 100,000 workers. The total truck driving industry needs to hire more than 90,000 new drivers each year to meet the rising demand.
The American Trucking Industry (ATA) indicates that the industry has struggled to fully fill the workforce for 15 consecutive years. Driver restrictions brought the shortage to critical mass in 2017 and the future of the industry looks bleak to everyone except the those who get behind the wheel.
“In addition to the sheer lack of drivers, fleets are also suffering from a lack of qualified drivers, which amplifies the effects of the shortage on carriers," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello reportedly said. “This means that even as the shortage numbers fluctuate, it remains a serious concern for our industry, for the supply chain and for the economy at large.”
Truck Driver Jobs Preset Opportunity For Millennials And Women
The rising driver shortage has been like a perfect storm. A huge demographic of the workforce has hit retirement age as driver demand steeply increases.
According to an NPR report, “The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old.” As the trucking industry workforce ages, new hires into the driving population are not keeping pace with retirements.
One misconception working against the industry involves the characteristics and work environment of truck drivers. The profession had garnered a reputation of being filled with rugged men that needed strong arms and long-haul stamina to do the job. The days of truck drivers requiring immense physical strength to turn the wheel and unload by hand is a thing of the past.
Today’s vehicles enjoy state-of-the-art driver technology and machine off-loading. Many of the newer vehicles are equipped with GPS technology, Bluetooth, excellent air conditioning and ergonomic seats. They’re like working in a pleasant office, just with the open road in front of you. The comforts may have helped members of an aging workforce to stay in the game a few years longer, but retirements are outpacing the need for skilled drivers.
This appears to be an opportunity for Millennials to get behind the wheel and earn a strong salary even without a college degree. And, despite technology removing the physical impediments, only about 11 percent of all truck drivers are women. According to Darin Williams, President of CDLjobs.com, both younger and female drivers are currently in high demand and encouraged to review the many trucking job opportunities updated daily on CDLjobs.com.
Why Truck Driver Jobs Are Expected To Increase
There are numerous factors impacting the freight industry. These include rising demand for goods and products, increased import and export trade, and the rise of e-commerce.
We’ve all heard the seemingly endless talk about tariffs, deficits and trade on the news. Although not every American understands the fine details of global trade, the one sure thing is that a great deal of goods and products are moving around. And, they are being carried by trucks. But e-commerce has been a type of “X-Factor” in recent years.
Projections about the trucking shortage, until recently, were based on traditional supply and demand models. Companies such as Amazon have shaken the way economists looks at commerce. Online retailers have impacted physical outlets. Many have already shuttered their brick and mortar locations. That is significant in terms of the flow of goods.
In the past, retail stores received bulk deliveries primarily from 18-wheelers. People drove to the outlet and purchased goods. But now those same goods require what many call the “last-mile” delivery. Customers no longer drive to the store, the store comes to them. According to a news report by Digital Commerce, e-commerce grew by approximately 16 percent in 2017 alone.
“Consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases in 2017 . . . with $390.99 billion in 2016,” Digital Commerce reports. “That’s the highest growth rate since 2011, when online sales grew 17.5 percent over 2010. E-commerce represented 13 percent of total retail sales in 2017 and 49 percent of the growth. Amazon is responsible for much of the gains.”
Consider the incredible increase in doorstep deliveries required to fulfill those transactions. As e-commerce continues to dominate the retail landscape, a growing job surplus is expected in CDL and last-mile positions.
Truck Driver Wages On The Rise
Industry insiders are fully aware that the laws of supply and demand are going to positively effect truck driver wages in coming years.
Recently, at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Greg Koepel, Vice President of Workforce Development and Administration at Roehl Transport commented, “The employment market for truck drivers is what I would call hyper-competitive and we feel it every day. We always say yesterday was our easiest day."
His organization has focused on hiring new, Millennial drivers by offering incentives such as paying for their CDL classes, training and providing professional mentorship. While those perks are attractive, candidates understand they are in the driver’s seat and expect higher wages. Truck drivers are getting that bump in pay.
A recent Driver Compensation Study conducted by the ATA shows that wages are rising due to driver shortages and the increased need for freight services. According to the organization, the study indicates the average salary for national, irregular drivers increased by 15 percent from 2013, or $7,000. Private fleet drivers enjoyed an 18-percent bump and are now averaging upwards of $86,000.
As American workers look for good-paying and secure jobs, driving truck ranks as one of the best options going forward. For more industry information, resources and job listings, visit CDLjobs.com.