Key statistics in trucking explain current trends in the industry. Understanding these metrics should guide drivers and trucking companies as they navigate the changing landscape. Making informed decisions starts with the empirical data contained below.
How Many Truck Drivers In The US?
The ongoing truck driver shortage begs the question: how many truckers are in the United States? The number of drivers stands at 3.49 million, according to data compiled during 2021 by the American Trucking Associations. Yet even with an unprecedented amount of drivers available, the United States still has a historic shortage of roughly 80,000 truckers. Many believe the problem is only going to get worse.
TheAmerican Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates the driver shortage could surpass 160,000 as soon as 2030. Their forecast analyzes current trends like driver demographics and expected freight growth to predict future industry dynamics. For example, truckers are older than other workers on average, with a median age of 46 for truckers compared to 41 for all workers. Looming higher rates of retirement for drivers will only accelerate the existing shortage.
However, many factors fuel the issue and there’s no singular cause or solution. The ATA claims, “The solution to the truck driver shortage will most certainly require increased pay, regulatory changes, and modifications to shippers’, receivers’ and carriers’ business practices to improve conditions for drivers.”
With more truckers in the United States than ever before, you might be concerned that wages are deflated because the market is oversaturated with drivers. That’s not the case. Even though there has never been more drivers than right now, trucking remains a stable and lucrative career path because of the industry’s inability to fill open positions and accommodate growing employment needs with qualified truckers.
In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers’ median pay was $48,310 per year, or $23.23 per hour. Truck driver pay is above the median national annual wage for all workers, which is slightly lower at $45,760. Trucker pay has skyrocketed in recent years. Two years prior in 2019, truckers’ median pay was $3,764 below the national median. In 2021, it’s $2,550 above it. Experts expect this trend to continue in a society becoming evermore reliant on innovation like online shopping and home deliveries.
What does the trucking industry look like?
BLS projects that trucking employment will grow 6% by 2030, suggesting a bright job outlook for drivers. Nearly 250,000 additional job openings for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers are expected to be available each year over the next decade. In the current market, and likely well into the future, competent drivers will continue to have their choosing of vacant trucking job postings. Even though the number of truck drivers in the US is higher than ever, the demand for drivers is increasing much faster.
These U.S. Census demographics statistics paint the truck driving landscape compared to the rest of the workforce:
- Truck driving is largely a male dominated field, with over 90% of truck driving jobs held by men.
- As previously mentioned, the average trucker (46) is older than the average worker (41).
- Only 7% of truckers have a bachelor’s degree, meaning most truckers enjoy wages above the national average without facing America’s crippling student loan debt crisis.
- Trucking has an unemployment rate of 4.1%, lower than the national unemployment of 5.3%
- Truckers are less likely to be covered by health insurance than other workers (15% of truckers are uninsured versus 10% for all workers).
- Almost half of truck drivers work more than 40 hours per week. Only about a quarter of workers in general labor work more than 40 hours per week.
- More than 10% of truckers are veterans — double the rate of the workforce at large.
- Average payroll per employee is highest in the long-distance industry ($48,920), slightly lower in specialized trucking businesses ($46,084), and lowest among local freight haulers ($42,203).
As a whole, the transportation system in the United States hauls over $2 billion worth of freight each day. Truck driving remains king, as shown by economic and industry data. By weight, trucks move 72.5% of freight in the United States, a total of 10.23 billion tons in 2020. By value, 80.4% of the nation’s freight bill is transported by truck, a total of $732.3 billion in 2020. Freight railroads, the next largest transporter, only haul about 10% of those figures.
37.9 million trucks are registered for business purposes, making up 23.9% of all registered trucks. In 2019, they travelled a compiled distance of 300.05 billion miles and paid $48.6 billion in taxes for federal and state highways. Truckers use 45.6 billion gallons of fuel on an annual basis, 36.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel and 9.1 billion gallons of gasoline.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports there are 996,894 for-hire carriers on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: 813,440 private carriers and 83,325 other interstate motor carriers. Of these companies, 97.4% operate 20 or fewer trucks and 91.5% operate fewer than 6 trucks.
Take Advantage Of A Strong Market
It’s a great time to be a trucker. Truck driver pay is soaring, and with so many open jobs, trucking companies are begging for qualified drivers. Finding local, regional & OTR truck driving jobs near you has never been easier. Apply to hundreds of jobs instantly using our online application.