Truck Driver Shortage Likely to Worsen According to Economists & Industry Analysts
By Space Coast Daily // December 23, 2019
The latest numbers indicate that that industry was short by slightly under 61,000 drivers at the end of 2018, which represents a 20 percent increase from the previous year.
Should there be no immediate market corrections in the meantime, the shortage may grow to as many as 160,000 empty positions as early as 2028.
Over the next decade, the industry will have to train and hire 1.1 million new drivers in order to replace older and retiring workers.
To make matters worse, representatives from the American Trucking Association claim that the turnover rate could be as high as 83 percent in some sectors of the industry.
Serious concerns over safety standards could cause the shortfall to worsen.
Safety Experts Debate Trucker Statistics
Record numbers of traffic fatalities could be discouraging fewer people from entering the trucking field. At one point, tractor-trailer operators were able to attract international talent who drove on temporary worker visas.
However, the situation has changed drastically as many of these drivers have elected to remain in their home nations.
Overseas markets now boast higher safety standards than many American ones do. For instance, Volvo trucks in European countries have to adhere to EU standards as well as statements issued by Swedish regulatory agencies.
That’s created a framework that’s ensured driver safety as well as the integrity of the cargo these trucks carry. Fewer European drivers want to head to the United States looking for jobs since they feel more comfortable working with in this kind of environment.
Litigation may play a role as well. A number of prominent injury attorneys have run nationwide campaigns that advertise their services to those hurt in truck-related accidents.
Drivers who own their own trucks may be unable to cope with this negative publicity, as they’re likely to be blamed in any sort of an accident. This is especially true of the market in Florida, where such attorneys ads are prevalent enough to sway legal decisions.
That being said, some experts involved in the debate feel that people are looking in the wrong direction and instead point their finger at current market conditions.
The Growing Debate on Truck Company Numbers
Economists now say that the current shortage of truck drivers has been seriously misunderstood by mainstream media outlets, and have instead elected to focus on the fact that more trucking companies exist than could ever possibly receive freight shipments from established firms.
Recent rail safety improvements have also ensured that a great percentage of traffic rides on trains.
Navistar International elected to reduce their total employment by 10 percent due to the fact that many trucks simply sit around unused.
It’s unlikely that the condition will improve anytime soon, as there seems to be a glut of larger motor vehicles that currently aren’t on the roads due to excess supply.
In addition, Cummins plans to cut more than 3 percent of their workforce as well. This would indicate that the current number of trucking companies across the country outpaces demand.
Unfortunately, any market corrections in the sector would result in a number of closures and related job losses. However, considering the number of people who plan to retire in the coming decade this process may not be as painful as it might seem.
Market Adjustments May Correct the Driver Shortage
Cash flow problems have been a major issue for many smaller trucking companies, which has caused a number of closures over the last couple of years. Florida’s Space Coast hasn’t been immune from the rash of failures, and several prominent local companies have gone out of business.
However, there is a silver lining considering that the current job market allows displaced drivers to take one of countless available positions. That’s made it easy for them to transition into a new career.
Over time, it’s likely that the trucking industry will stabilize as drivers continue to retire and older trucks are replaced with any of the disused current models.
Local delivery services might also help to capture some of the cast off talent. A greater percentage of freight moves by van, due in no small part to consumer products shipped to fulfill individual online customer orders.
Drivers who are no longer employed by any trucking service could theoretically transfer to one of these services and begin a new career in a growing industry.
With a renewed emphasis on renewable energy and alternative fuels, it’s also likely that the truck manufacturing industry might well make a comeback in the meantime as well.