Is There a Truck Driver Shortage?

If you are in the trucking industry, you’ve probably heard about the driver shortage. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 65,000 fewer truckers were available for hire in 2020 than in 2019. The number of truck drivers only increased three percent the year before.

Of course, some folks will argue that all stats from 2020 are skewed due to the pandemic. It is too soon to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the economy and the job market. With people out of work due to illness and quarantine, it is difficult to determine exactly what the facts mean. Is there a truck driver shortage, though?

Driver Shortage vs. Driver Turnover

Saying that there is a truck driver shortage implies that there are fewer people trained to be truckers than there were previously. It brings to mind a high demand for the job but no one to take those positions. This is partially true.

Younger people are less likely to get a CDL license, and the average age of a trucker is around 50. It just isn’t high on the list of job prospects for many millennial and Gen Z workers.

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However, others have CDL licenses but no longer work in the industry. This begs the question: is there a truck driver shortage, or is there a truck driver turnover problem?

Trucking is not an easy job. It requires a lot of alone time away from home and on the road. Many find that truck driving is not a good fit for them and move on to other careers. This suggests that there is a shortage of people who want to drive trucks, not a shortage of qualified drivers.

The Actual Issue: Retention Rates

Both a shortage of talent and an increase in turnover can be fixed with the same solution: better retention rates.

If companies can keep their current truckers longer, they won’t have to look for new ones to hire. Concerns of a shortage aren’t as pressing for a business that has great retention with the employees they already have. It’s a surefire defense against revenue challenges, no matter where they are coming from.

One way to keep your truckers around longer is to keep communication open. Know when your employees are unhappy. Provide ways for them to bring problems to the forefront so they can be solved faster. Collecting feedback often and acting on it shows your truckers that you care about their experience at work. By keeping a two-way conversation open between employees and management, you will avoid many issues altogether and keep your truckers for longer than the competition.

If the driver shortage OR industry-wide driver turnover is impacting your bottom line, maybe it’s time to do something about it. Learn how American Central Transport is tackling driver turnover in this case study.