Will throwing money at drivers solve the trucker shortage problem?
A shortage of truck drivers, which has contributed to the ongoing supply chain disruption, has been a challenge for over 15 years and is only expected to worsen.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said before the pandemic that the trucking industry was facing a shortfall of nearly 61,000 drivers and would need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade to keep pace with increasing freight demands.
According to the ATA, the problem can be seen in the relatively high average age of truckers — 46 years old — as well as the fact that only seven percent of truckers are women. Extensive regulations, pressure to fulfill on-time deliveries and long hours away from home have long dimmed trucking’s career appeal.
More recently, headlines of autonomous driving’s potential may have scared off young applicants. The shift to e-commerce, accelerated by the pandemic, has enabled long-haul truckers to join UPS, FedEx or Amazon.com in roles that offer more regular routes close to their homes.
To meet demand, private fleets have increased pay for truck drivers to more than $86,000 from $73,000 in 2013, according to an ATA survey.
As CNN recently reported, however, the pay hikes are prompting many drivers to switch from one company to the next, creating an annual turnover rate of 95 percent for truckload carriers. With the extra pay, some are choosing to work less to spend more time at home.
Legislators could be pushed to improve working conditions for truckers. In the U.K., the government just relaxed rules for how long truck drivers can work. The ATA is pushing regulators to lower the minimum age for long-haul truckers from 21 to 18.
Dollar General began offering a $5,000 signing bonus in mid-July to truckers to be paid within their first six months of employment.
Walmart started offering $8,000 sign-on bonuses in April for drivers with a promise to earn up to $87,500 in their first year. Walmart’s offer also included activity, training and mileage pay from day one; quarterly safe driving bonuses; weekly home time; and up to 21 days paid time off in the first year.
- New Survey Data Reveals Increases in Driver Compensation – American Trucking Associations
- Truckers are getting big pay hikes, but there’s still a shortage of drivers – CNN
- Calls trucking the ‘linchpin of the United States’ supply chain,’ urges bipartisan action on infrastructure – American Trucking Associations
- Dollar General Plans to Hire up to 50,000 Individuals by Labor Day – Dollar General/Business Wire
- Retailers back call for action over truck driver shortage – Talking Retail
- Aging workforce, booming industry create “perfect storm” for truck driver supply and demand crisis – Cleveland.com
- Retailers are scrambling to find trucks amid the pandemic, generating record-smashing pay for drivers – Business Insider
- Attention Drivers: Walmart is Offering Signing Bonuses – Transport Topics
- Got truck drivers? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will ever-higher wages likely be most beneficial in solving trucker shortages or does retail have to reprioritize the career in other ways? What less obvious solutions do you see?