The Driver Shortage

The Driver Shortage

Truck drivers are the basic unit of transportation capacity and the glue that holds supply chains together. No container or straight truck or trailer moves without, at some point, a truck driver. Even so, trucking companies, especially truckload carriers, often have great difficulty finding, hiring and keeping drivers. Nearly every period of economic growth is accompanied by a driver "shortage," including the recovery that began in 2009.

What's causing the driver shortage?

Is today’s shortage truly a demographic lack of available qualified drivers, or is it a market shortage created by comparatively low pay and unsatisfactory working conditions? How will federal regulations governing licensing, medical testing, safety enforcement and how long drivers may work affect demand and supply? Unless trucking companies, logistics providers and shippers work together to finally resolve trucking’s “driver problem,” transportation and logistics costs will rise substantially, and supply chains will be put at risk.

Read more:

10 Reasons for Driver Turnover and What Carriers Can Do About It

 

News & Analysis

13 Oct 2021
A reallocation of assets and workers across the transportation landscape, combined with inventory rebuilding, complicates the outlook for US shippers in 2022, speakers told the JOC Inland Distribution webcast.
08 Oct 2021
The for-hire trucking industry lost 1,600 jobs last month, but the Labor Department expected a bigger drop, as transit, warehousing and courier employment surged.
03 Sep 2021
A stronger than expected round of hiring in August brought transportation and warehousing payrolls back to pre-pandemic levels, but new employees aren’t distributed evenly.
29 Aug 2021
Instead of waiting for autonomous trucks, shippers starving for capacity should automate processes starting with freight pickup and delivery to save drivers time, says MIT FreightLab’s co-director.
14 Jul 2021
An ‘unprecedented’ number of new motor carriers is hitting US roads, but they represent a shift in capacity, not an expansion, according to experts.
07 Jun 2021
Top trucking and intermodal providers are raising penalties on shippers who do not promptly unload and return 53-foot trailers or containers.
04 Jun 2021
Drayage capacity from Southeastern US ports is so low right now that ocean carriers, NVOCCs, and shippers are scouring to locate small truck carriers on the spot market and paying extra to get their loads hauled.
04 Jun 2021
The US for-hire trucking industry has added 25,100 jobs over the past three months, but the US economy appears to be expanding faster than trucking recruiters can hire workers.
26 May 2021
After a rough six-week period following the paralyzing February snowstorm in Texas, intermodal terminals are operating with fewer delays in Dallas-Fort Worth, with chassis available and driver productivity bucking national trends.
19 May 2021
An exodus of drayage drivers to the flatbed and dry van truckload sectors is further limiting already constrained capacity and equipment availability in key inland markets.
12 May 2021
Transportation and warehousing firms losing employees may be competing more often with contractor-based gig economy businesses; trucking, however, is expanding its payroll.
26 Apr 2021
Despite a sharp overall drop in the number of truck driver speeding violations last year, excessive speeding remains a problem, FMCSA violations data show.
19 Apr 2021
Intermodal service in Kansas City is a “complete mess,” according to three cargo owners, with an import surge causing chassis shortages and restrictions on what containers can be picked up or dropped off at rail terminals.
06 Apr 2021
Alabama-based truckload carrier AMX is raising driver pay, but wants to do so in a way that will allow the carrier to maintain increased wages when demand – and rates – recede.
05 Apr 2021
US trucking companies reversed a three-month decline in jobs in March, but they haven’t escaped the employment crater created by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.
30 Mar 2021
Truck driver pay is improving, and that may be keeping more drivers behind the wheel, rather than jumping from job to job.
05 Mar 2021
The transportation and warehousing sector lost fewer jobs than anticipated in February, but trucking companies saw deeper than expected job losses in a storm-wracked month.
02 Mar 2021
Knight Swift CEO Dave Jackson tells JOC’s virtual TPM21 conference that trailer pools, agility, and long-term thinking is the way carriers and shippers can reduce the wild swings seen in trucking rates since 2017.
22 Feb 2021
Less-than-truckload carrier Yellow is opening 12 driver training schools as operators across the US trucking industry are struggling to find enough experienced drivers to satisfy growing industrial and retail freight demand.
08 Feb 2021
The loss of 84,300 trucking and warehousing jobs in January -- actual numbers before seasonal adjustment -- makes prospects for tighter capacity and higher rates for US shippers in the months ahead more certain.
20 Jan 2021
Motor carriers must do more than raise driver pay to counteract the current shortfall, including driving greater efficiency in their networks and at shipper facilities to allow existing truckers to make more trips in a given day.
19 Jan 2021
US truckload carrier Heartland Express improved revenue and profit in the most recent quarter and is raising driver pay, investing in new equipment, and focusing on improved utilization in 2021.
08 Jan 2021
Trucking’s peak season extended well into December, blunting a seasonal decline in actual trucking employment numbers and boosting seasonally adjusted job gains, according to data released Friday.
23 Dec 2020
Drayage capacity in Miami is tight due to an unusual late-year surge in fruits and vegetables, cigars, and casual wear, causing truckers to be booked up seven to 14 days in advance.
17 Dec 2020
The truck driver turnover rate is rising at truckload carriers as they compete for employees; that is spurring a new round of pay hikes for drivers.
04 Dec 2020
Although trucking employment is rising, the year-over-year gap is still large enough to throttle back capacity and keep pricing pressure on shippers.
13 Nov 2020
Higher pay is just a starting point for the solution to a resurgent driver shortage, J.B. Hunt’s Shelley Simpson tells the JOC Inland Distribution Webcast. Greater efficiencies, more shipper cooperation are key to improving driver jobs.
19 Oct 2020
Available drivers have been hard to find with such a sudden and sharp rise in domestic and international container flows, placing a great deal of strain on the fluidity of the supply chain.
05 Oct 2020
A substantial increase in heavy truck orders in September begs the question: Who will drive those trucks? Trucking employment is improving, but still down 4.7 percent year over year.
09 Sep 2020
US for-hire trucking companies are rehiring truck drivers at a rate slower than the acceleration of freight demand, contributing to rising pressure on truck rates and US shippers.
28 Aug 2020
A proposed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pilot project would let truck drivers stop the hours of service clock for up to three hours and then resume driving, giving them more control over their schedules, but a longer day.
29 May 2020
After spiking in March owing to increased demand for essential goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic, truck detention has receded but remains a disruptive factor for truckers that can backfire on shippers when capacity is needed.
14 May 2020
The new final US hours-of-service rule gives truckers more flexibility in how they use their daily hours, but shippers get a gift of capacity that could help extend their pricing power.
08 May 2020
The recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has erased years of trucking employment gains, bringing payroll headcounts below 2006 levels, US data shows.
15 Apr 2020
Detention is a problem for truckers in the best of times. It’s worse amid the pandemic as shippers handle high volumes with fewer dock and warehouse workers available.
06 Apr 2020
Trucking companies need plans to keep their drivers healthy, financially whole, and on the road amid the coronavirus outbreak. They need plans for when they get sick, too.

Commentary

The evidence is overwhelming that the younger the driver, the greater the risk of road accidents and fatalities.