A lot of drivers hate seeing semis on the freeway because of their intimidating size and slow speed, but big rigs are absolutely vital to moving goods around the country. The US is on the road to a major trucking crisis, though. A recent analysis from Business Insider finds that we aren't producing nearly enough new drivers to fill all the needed seats. By 2022, the shortfall could reach 239,000 people.

Even now, there's room for about 30,000 additional truckers to enter the industry, and that's only going to get larger. Drivers are constantly jumping from company to company with huge turnover rates, but there is little new blood coming into the workforce.

The biggest issue is a problem of supply and demand. Changes in the industry and new regulations mean that the amount of long-distance truckers required is only going up. On the other hand, fewer people are willing to leave their families and homes for a life on the open road.

The solution is simple economics. With a small employee pool and lots of available work, the industry is paying drivers more in hopes of luring more people in. Of course, that's likely going to raise freight costs and in the end increase the costs of goods. Head over to Business Insider to read the full report including all sorts of statistics showing just how bad the problem is.


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  • 113 Comments
      razingkane
      • 4 Months Ago

      I am an ex-over the road truck driver (OTR). The shortage is a direct result of crappie pay and a lifestyle that takes its toll mentally and physically on the drivers. If your wheels are not tuning you are not making money...and by money I mean .30 - .45 CENTS a mile. We are not making a penny while being loaded and unloaded and you are always waiting for that process to take place. Federal driving regulations and promised load drop off and load pickup times are constantly at odds with each other. Dispatchers constantly lie about loads waiting for us to be picked up. As for obesity, try living and sleeping in a truck and eating at Loves, Petro, Flying J, and Pilot and having your sleep patterns changing on a daily basis. Now before you guys jump all over me saying I made the choice to make truck driving a career choice you are right I did...but remember this:

      If you eat food, drive a car, live in a house, wear clothes, and throw stuff away, you can do that because a truck driver makes that possible for you to do so.

        Carpinions
        • 4 Months Ago
        @razingkane
        I have never been an OTR truck driver myself, but I know someone who used to be in the early 00s, and she didn't spend much time in the industry for some of the reasons you mention. I think you are right that it's a job that simply doesn't pay anymore. The sick irony is, as much as this country's culture is to tell people to "get a job!", many kinds of work simply are not respected, so those jobs and workers are treated like drags on the economy, and you get things like OTR driver shortages, or worse, the massive impacts that kind of thinking has had on blue collar work and skills.
        But on your last statement, I have to disagree. All kinds of people do tough, unrespected (unfortunately), even lower-paying work nobody else wants to do, that makes yours and my day go around a lot smoother.
          Darth Nader
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Carpinions

          Sadly, no jobs pay like they used to.  Depressing.

          Larry Litmanen
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Carpinions
          Most of the time people get paid what they deserve. To be a trucker there's no need to have a college degree so the job is wide open to anyone who is willing. 
          Look you can't complain that a fast food job or a trucking does not pay a lot, you knew what you were getting into.
        ARich
        • 4 Months Ago
        @razingkane


        The pay isnt what it used to be.  And it's even worst for the owner operators with rising fuel prices and rising maintenance and repair costs.  I'm all for making our planet green but these new engines are a joke

        Phlegming Liberal
        • 4 Months Ago
        @razingkane

        I think the issue is big corporations' drive for the bottom line - look at McDonald's, look at Walmart, look at just about any other labor-intensive industries and you'll see big companies squeeze the bottom rung employees for the bottom line. Never mind that a company like Costco pays its employees well, the employees have low turnover leading to better service and expertise in their line of work, and better efficiencies in the long term, leading to much better ROI for the company. 30 to 45 cents a mile is absolutely a joke, especially when the nation's life-blood depends on truck drivers.

        However, my opinion is that the trucking shortage is leading directly to the boom in rail freight, and the increase in LTL or local drivers will eventually lead to saturation in rail and we'd be back at square one on OTR driver shortage.

        Long term prognosis: everyone will pay more, but that may be a good thing since the drivers will have better pay for their hard work.

        I don't think we, as a nation collectively, appreciate the sacrifices and the dedication of certain segments of professionals that make our lives that much easier and convenient. 

          yonomo200
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Phlegming Liberal

          "I don't think we, as a nation collectively, appreciate the sacrifices and the dedication of certain segments of professionals that make our lives that much easier and convenient."                                                                            

          No, we don't. Instead, we have a generation of thankless twits like Sea Urine, who constantly complain about other people's sense of entitlement, when in fact they have quite the sense of entitlement of their own. They think that the piece of paper which mommy, daddy, the government etc. bought for them means that they get to crap on the rest of the population for doing honest, hard work instead of spending four years sitting in a classroom learning whatever it is they've been learning to cause this attitude. I bet he's a rotten tipper too.


          BTW Sea Urine. I know that $100,000/year isn't squat in NYC. No wonder you're so bitter. lol

          mike
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Phlegming Liberal

          Ask the corporate VP's at the top making the million dollar salaries to pay a little more.  Why should the public, middle class and lower end workers continue footing the bill when the difference in salaries and perks are already astronomical?  Oh yeah, its a good o'l boys club in the board room still.  See how that works?  Corporate logic at its best.

          msspamrefuge
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Phlegming Liberal

          "Scarifies? So because i went to college and studied and got a nice office job making around $100K i owe you something?"

          That's the problem with many college-goers who've never started on the ground floor; they believe debt and academia entitles them to prosperity and that anyone who doesn't take the same road should pound sand. Better yet, they have a curious propensity of taking issue with frontline employees getting mutually sustainable pay, never mind that their direct (and often grueling) involvement with offering the product or service to the customer is why pretty much everyone else above them has a job in the first place. Without a secure, competent, and profitable production side, there's almost no point in populating the middle-level beyond supervisor or manager because those positions in and of themselves are not profitable. Why do you think middle-level employees were a target in the recession?

        commentz
        • 4 Months Ago
        @razingkane

        What's the point of the last statement?  It's incredible obvious and there's no more reason for people to be grateful to truck drivers than to any worker contributing to another part of the economic value chain.  I'm not saying this to be cruel, but I hear this crap coming out of the trucking industry all the time as if it is a point of pride

          Armand
          • 4 Months Ago
          @commentz

          My thoughts exactly, although his other points are valid. That "shortage" can be EASILY fixed by paying better wages and benefits. And no, it won't result in drastic cost increases due to economies of scale.

          Donny Hoover
          • 4 Months Ago
          @commentz

          It should be a point of pride. They do a crappy job that kills their health with a sedentary lifestyle and strange hours, and keeps them away from their families. In doing so, they provide a much needed service to all of us.

        MechE
        • 4 Months Ago
        @razingkane
        Multiple reasons why driving doesn't pay what it used to but from what I've heard it's mainly due to regulations limiting how many hours drivers can do their job.  I know, safety, but it has gotten ridiculous. Making a man stop and rest when he's good to drive only makes them keep going when they ARE tired since they have to maximize their time. 

        It doesn't help when they strap so much emissions crap to the trucks that they can't can't make it up a hill. 
        retired Teamster
        • 4 Months Ago
        @razingkane

        If you had a Teamster card in you wallet you would be getting paid while these clowns at the dock take lunch and swap stories.  Instead of sleeping in a truck you might find a good Holiday Inn and be home for the kids Friday night football game.  Of course you would have to forget all the BS that has taken over the industry that being in a union is a bad thing...lol.  I can just affirm that I retired with a Teamster pension (not a 401k) and am getting paid while I go fishing everyday, probably more than most of the non union drivers make working.

          Moslerfam
          • 4 Months Ago
          @retired Teamster

          Unions have their issues, but I think it's arguable that unions created the middlle class in America.

        larrycooksr2
        • 1 Month Ago
        @razingkane

        thanks for the post, as an ex driver, you said it all. i have retooled myself at age 60  happy ,making money, home. so all the crooked trucking companies, ~!@#$%^  YOU  and the dot and rude shippers/ recivers why did i waste my life in this thankless industry?  finally i have peace





        larrycooksr2
        • 1 Month Ago
        @razingkane

        thanks for the post   sometimes i look back, but over all, after 30 years  glad its all in my past. worse now than ever. 75 cents a mile i'd go back. you can't even make that if you own the damn truck. someday when the shelves are empty people will appriciate drivers. 


      Tweaker
      • 4 Months Ago

      Sounds like a buildup to declaring that we need more Mexicans to do the work Americans won't. Which we know is BS and simply a way to pay people lower wages. 

        razingkane
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Tweaker

        Funny you should mention that. It used to be that Mexican trucks driven by Mexican drivers crossing the US-Mexican border could only travel 100 miles from the US-Mexican border before the load had to be transferred to a US company and driven by US truck drivers. The Bush administration and the Mexican Government OK'd a trial test (2005-2006) of Mexican truck drivers and trucks from a select group of Mexican trucking companies to travel anywhere the US. US trucking regulations were to be followed by the Mexican truck drivers and trucking companies. According to the Bush administration own test results the Mexican government failed to follow US trucking regulations. Unfortunately this did not stop the test as they merely extended the test (2006-2007) and allowed other Mexican trucking companies to join in saying the testing was too small of a sample. As you can imagine, the ripple effect across the US trucking industry resulted in warehousing, transfer station and local trucking companies closing down resulting in layoffs. Another unimagined side effect was some US trucking companies started hiring the Mexican drivers as their wages were even lower than their US counterparts.


      Michael Pennington
      • 4 Months Ago

      Well, the trucker usually gets screwed out of pay one way or another.  Either mileage is way too low or bonuses are unattainable despite being used as a recruiting carrot.  Drivers have to beat the laws to make any kind of money and the overall working conditions just don't justify the wear and tear on the human body.  I am a former dispatcher and saw all of this first hand.

       

      The Mercers
      • 4 Months Ago

      Two comments, one blindingly obvious (for which I apologize) and one about historical perspective.

      1. There is no shortage of truck drivers generally.  There is a shortage of truck drivers at the current wage rate.  Raise wages, market clears.  Again, I apologize for being obvious.

      2. The trucking industry has been complaining about this for a long, long time.  Here is a direct quote from The Journal of Commerce: "Practically every truck manufacturer and nearly all employers complain of the great difficulty of securing drivers who are competent...  They are agreed that the profit or loss from truck transportation is largely dependent on the drivers, and yet a majority of truck owners will hire the men who will work cheapest..."  The date on this article is December 12, 1914.  

      OnTheRocks
      • 4 Months Ago

      Hmm. I have been looking for a new career. Don't have a wife or kids to leave at home. 

      Petrol
      • 4 Months Ago

      PAY THEM, how friggin' hard is this?

      George
      • 4 Months Ago

      Drivers end up making 40-60k a year for living in a truck.  Their companies typically tell them they will get 'thru the house' every 2 weeks for 24 hrs without losing their truck (and they are VERY particular about losing their trucks too).  So, for the privilege of maintaining two homes, seeing their kids every couple of weeks, rushing through their time off, missing most of their kids lives, being treated like garbage on the road by 'lice' (which is what they call cars) you will make what amounts to roughly 20k a year more than the 'burger flippers union' wants their people to make.  Are you serious?  Why would anyone want to drive.  I've been in this business 35 years and I still don't know what makes a man (or woman) do the job the way they are treated.

      KeiCarLvr
      • 4 Months Ago

      Could it be that people don't want to be worked to death regardless of the pay?  I know I wouldn't....

      T. C.
      • 4 Months Ago

      With the massive deregulation of the 80s, being a trucker became a back-breaking way to earn a living, as companies took and took from drivers.  Even now, companies look for ways to screw drivers for their own advantage.  For one thing, it's past time to pay drivers for down-time while on the road (waiting to off-load, waiting for return loads to be available, stranded by severe weather). 

      Worx2749
      • 4 Months Ago

      Driving a big rig has to be one of the most exhausting jobs around, especially with the heavy traffic and lousy road surface conditions of today.  I can't imagine doing it for long.  Question:  are Teamsters members adequately paid or are they about the same as non-union drivers?  Pay should go up, regardless, since demand's outstripping supply.

        Charles
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Worx2749

        Teamster drivers do get better pay and better benefits. Something that a lot of people say we do not deserve.

          T. C.
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Charles

          Yeah, the people who say that factory workers are greedy, while defending a CEO making 1,000 times as much as his average employee.

      RDP
      • 4 Months Ago

      When a truck that is carrying say $250,000 worth of goods and the guy driving it across the country is  earning around $500 to get it delivered that is sad.

      m3laszlo
      • 4 Months Ago

      I guess i should add my $0.02 since i had various Shipping /receiving control jobs and went on a couple of ride-alongs with truckers.  

      The single biggest problem  the industry faces is lack of innovation.  Whenever i pick up a trucking magazine, there are hundreds of ads and articles showcasing the newest way to save 1-2% on fuel!  What they need is a GAME CHANGER.  Something revolutionary that breaks from the old way of doing things.


        Charles
        • 4 Months Ago
        @m3laszlo

        The way the EPA regulation are that cannot happen. We use to have trucks that were coming up on 10 miles per gallon. The way the EPA has forced the industry to set up engines now will make it all but impossible. 

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