Trucker Shortages Loom for 2011 – Truck Industry Bucks Global Trend

January 8, 2011

With much of the US economy experiencing shrinkage in 2010 as the world weathered the worst recession since the Great Depression, the trucking industry bucked the trend. The US economy needed 200,000 new truckers in 2010, with a further 200,000 needed for 2011, according to the Council of Supply Chain Management.

There are a number of factors at work in fueling demand for more truck drivers, but the overall numbers belie an industry still struggling to shake off the constraints of a shaky economy.

Increasing numbers of truck drivers will be retiring as the average age of truckers spiked over the last 15 years. This means that new drivers are needed to replace the increasing number of retirees, and does not mean the creation of new jobs per se.

Another factor increasing the need for new blood, are the ever more stringent safety regulations which are forcing drivers with a poor safety driving record off the roads. In addition, the trucking industry shed around 150,000 jobs during the recent recession and demand for trucking services has now surpassed pre-recession levels. In other words, all those lost jobs are now needed back to service current demand.

Finally and again attached to the economy, 2011 is set to be the year when full-blown recovery takes place. This means growth in industrial and commercial activity, which in turn will generate an increase in demand for logistical services and more trucking jobs too. What does all this mean for truck drivers and operators?

For drivers, it is going to mean an increase in pay and benefits as operators struggle to find and retain drivers to meet the demand for their services. Larger operators, offering training and truck deals are going to find that they will need to either improve benefit levels or relax the currently stringent conditions which tie a driver to the company, if they are to continue to attract new recruits.

This is not going to happen right now – there are too many jobless applicants still out there.

For the moment, trucking companies probably have more applicants for positions available. As the pool of qualified or suitable driver talent is taken up, then demand forces will operate so we should expect to start seeing pay increases kicking in towards the middle to end of 2011. One unwelcome aspect of the increase in economic activity is that just as drivers' pay is likely to increase, so will other costs associated with running an operation; for instance if you are looking at replacing equipment, now is the time to look at trucks for sale before demand forces their price upwards too.

Either way, this is good news for truckers their families and the entire industry.

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