Increase In Employment In The Trucking Industry
Jobs are coming back to the trucking industry—and the demand for drivers is high.
According to the Labor Department’s June 4th report, for-hire trucking added 1,500 new jobs in May.
In total, there are 1.4 million workers now employed in the trucking sector, which is up 1.6% (22,400 jobs) from last year. From 2010, the post-recession low, employment is up 13.6% (175,900).
However, more drivers are desperately needed. Across the country, there is a demand for more than 30,000 drivers.
One of the driving forces behind this boom is energy production, one of the fastest growing sectors for the trucking industry.
“As the industry starts to haul more because demand goes up, we’ll need to add more drivers, nearly 100,000 annually over the next decade, in order to keep pace,” said Bob Costello, chief economist and vice president of the American Trucking Association.
As a result of this labor shortage, pay is likely to increase for drivers. In 2013, the national average annual salary for truck drivers was $49,540, according to the ATA.
Because of a severe lack of drivers, some companies are being forced to turn away business. Charlie Hoag, manager of Copeland Trucking’s terminal in Des Moines, Iowa, says he could increase his annual revenue from $9 million to “$13 million or $14 million overnight if I could put drivers in those trucks.”
To meet the demand for drivers, employers are utilizing a variety of methods to recruit new workers, from ads on the internet and radio to even social media. Many employers are frequently looking to hire drivers directly out of trucking schools.
John D. Esparza, president and CEO of the Texas Trucking Association, explains, “Many companies will pay a driver’s tuition and then hire them on once they have completed the course.They continue training or finishing to the company’s specs and are teamed with an experienced driver for more training.”
One threat to filling the demand for drivers is the booming construction and manufacturing industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the construction sector added 6,000 jobs in May, while manufacturing added 10,000. These jobs may appeal to workers who want a more stable lifestyle and higher pay.
Aaron Tennant, president of Tennant Truck Lines Inc., of Colona, Illinois, says he has raised compensation for its drivers during the second quarter to entice more workers into the industry. “We have empty trucks sitting on the fence, waiting for drivers to come along.
Another issue complicating the labor shortage is aging drivers. The average age of a driver is 50, and as they retire, employers are finding that they have no one to replace them.
Federal law requires interstate commercial drivers to be at least 21 years old, and some companies are in talks with lawmakers to lower the age. Tennant says, “We have all these good jobs available and if we could tap into that demographic and bring these younger folks in and…train them, we’d develop a really solid group of drivers.”
In addition to increasing wages, employers are boosting drivers’ benefits, providing more flexible work schedules, and buying fancy new trucks. Do you have any ideas for how to draw new drivers into the trucking industry?