The country has been struggling with a driver shortage for years, a shortage that continues to widen and increase the number of available trucking jobs. Whether you look at statistics regarding CDL A or CDL B jobs, trucking companies are offering good salaries, benefits, and incentives to fill their ranks with qualified drivers.
Although social media and economic news may make it seem like the driver shortage is a relatively new phenomenon, nothing could be further from the truth. There have been a high number of available trucking jobs for many years. Here are five reasons why that shortage is likely to continue.
- Majority of Goods and Materials are Moved Via Truck
According to the American Trucking Association, upwards of 71 percent of all freight is moved by truck in the U.S. To haul the country’s more than 10.5 billion tons of goods and materials, over 3.6 million Class 8 trucks, 3.5 million professional CDL holders, and 39 billion gallons of fuel are required. Simply put, the hardworking men and women of America’s trucking industry are the nation’s lifeblood.
- Federal Rules Increased Number of Trucking Jobs
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has implemented a variety of rules intended to lower the risk of fatigued driving. There was a time when some drivers would drink copious amounts of coffee and energy products to stay awake and drive for extended periods. They made a great deal of money and curbed the driver shortage to some degree. Obviously, such practices were dangerous.
That being said, the relatively new hours-of-service rules implemented by the FMCSA lowered the truck-driving work week from 82 to 70 hours, required mandatory lunch or dinner breaks, and limited drivers to 11 drivable hours and 14 total work hours. If you consider the reduction of drivable hours across the freight-hauling industry against the heightened need for truckers, a root cause of the driver shortage is apparent. Although the FMSCA may have saved lives with its improved safety rules, an industry already struggling to fulfill its mandate got its hours cut.
Other policy items that ramp up the number of available trucking jobs is that fact that federal regulations require interstate drivers to be at least 21 years old. The age requirement has resulted in the 20-34 demographic reportedly securing only 20 percent of the trucking jobs available compared to 30 percent in the construction sector. Considering many entry-level trucking CDL A or CDL B jobs pay more than their construction counterparts, age restrictions appear to be a driving factor.
- Robust Economy Creating Even More Trucking Jobs Opportunities
According to reports by the American Trucking Association, the ongoing driver shortage was only about 38,000 in 2014. Although manageable for freight outfits, it started to become uncomfortable as that shortage increased to about 50,000 in 2015. Under the previous sluggish economy, the lack of CDL professionals was expected to top 175,000 by 2024. However, the economic resurgence the country is currently experiencing has blown those projections out of the water.
Some reports indicate that the total driver shortage swelled to upwards of 296,000 in 2018. Contributing factors reportedly included a 7.9-percent increase in for-hire truck tonnage during the first two quarters of 2018 over the previous year. That uptick was reportedly more than double the growth experienced in 2017 as well. To put that in context, by 2018 the country had a driver shortage working fewer hours during a heightened need to move freight. It was a perfect storm in terms of available trucking jobs.
- Other Sectors Taking CDL A or CDL B Jobs Candidates
The historically low unemployment rates have forced employers to compete for qualified workers and laborers. The economic boom has also reportedly siphoned off traditional candidates for CDL A or CDL B jobs. The construction sector has been pushed to increase wages and benefits for workers of various skill levels.
Jobs in manufacturing are reportedly experiencing the best growth in more than 30 years. In 2018, a reported 264,000 manufacturing jobs were added to the U.S. economy, the most since 1988. The total number of people working in the industry was the highest since 1949. Both of these industries tend to attract non-college degree workers similar to those securing trucking jobs.
- Truck Driver Attrition Rates
The trucking industry is reportedly tasked with hiring upwards of 89,000 new CDL holders each year. Retiring truckers are expected to comprise 45 percent of the reported shortfall and increased economic growth could heighten the need for new drivers exponentially.
In order to fill the rising number of available trucking jobs, companies are increasing salaries and incentives such as bonuses and quality health care packages. Freight outfits are working diligently to strategically attract women and Millennials, among others. The massive driver shortage provides a rare opportunity for job security and good pay for years to come.
Simply put, there is no better time to explore job opportunities in this industry. If you are considering becoming one of America’s proud truckers, contact one of our Southwest Truck Driver Training admissions professionals. They can answer all of your questions and provide you with information about classes, costs, and enrollment, as well.