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The Impact of the Driver Shortage
4 mins read

FEBRUARY 19, 2019 – A major motor carrier in the Northeast just announced that they’ll be declaring bankruptcy and closing their doors – putting close to 2,000 drivers out of work.

The decision was made in part to the “severe industry shortage of drivers,” which contributed to the company’s losses over the past two years.

With over 70 percent of freight transported by truck, and a rapidly growing deficit of drivers, we’re on the cusp of a crisis-level driver shortage that is being felt throughout the industry. In fact, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that the industry will need almost 1 million new drivers by 2024 to keep up with the rising demand.

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The Root Cause of the Issue

The average truck driver is now 50 years old and thinking about retirement. But with less interest among the younger generations in pursuing a trucking career, there aren’t currently enough men and women stepping forward to fill their spots. The long stretches of time away from home and lack of work-life balance are major contributing factors here – as is the increased focus on company culture and workplace benefits.

Recognizing the need for change, many motor carriers have been rethinking their culture and benefits packages to make the profession more appealing to the younger generations. In an industry where wages average around $45,000 a year, for example, Walmart drivers can make almost double that (with bonuses), plus get two full days at home each week and three weeks of vacation time to start.

Competitive benefits packages (complete with retirement accounts) and generous sign-on bonuses are also becoming a standard offering for new hires.

The Road Ahead

Further complicating this issue is the increased demand for trucking, which is higher than ever now that more and more people are turning to the Internet for their shopping needs – and wanting their items faster and faster. Two-day shipping is now the norm, with same-day delivery starting to take hold in major metropolitan areas, as well. This trend is set to continue, increasing the need for qualified drivers in a time when they’re harder to come by than ever before.

For motor carriers, this issue – combined with an almost 100% driver turnover rate – is causing major headaches. And as we’re starting to see, it’s forcing some companies to permanently close their doors.

For employers, the takeaway is this: while you can’t directly control the driver shortage, what you can control is your recruiting and retention strategies – both of which can reverse the trend in your own business and make sure you have the talent needed to keep your trucks moving.

By focusing more intently on how you attract and keep the right talent for your business, you’ll be taking a big step towards maintaining a full-staffed fleet – so that you can help ensure a profitable future for yourself and your business.

Not sure where to start?  We’ll show you how.

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