Trucking industry looking for 80,000 drivers to help fix the supply chain

October 26, 2021 – Retirements and industry burnout, coupled with increased consumer demand have left the trucking industry short of 80,000 drivers. That’s a 30% increase from before the pandemic, when the industry already faced a labor shortage of 61,500 drivers, Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, told CNN.

The dearth of drivers is yet another factor adding pressure to the U.S. supply chain. President Biden directed the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to move to 24/7 operations, but the ports can’t yet work round the clock because there are not enough drivers to move the cargo at all hours.

“24/7 operations – it’s an improvement,” said Spear. “But it doesn’t matter if it’s a port in LA or Long Beach, or the last mile of delivery from a train to a warehouse in Wichita. You’re going to have to have a driver and a truck move that freight.”

If nothing is done, the latest figures put the industry on track for a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2030, and the need for 1,000,000 new drivers over the next ten years, according to the American Trucking Associations.

A bipartisan infrastructure bill awaiting action in Congress would authorize hundreds of billions of dollars for transportation, which would include workforce development for the trucking industry. The bill would also allow 3,000 drivers between the ages of 18-20 to undergo training, permitting them to drive tractor-trailers across state lines. Currently, drivers must be 21 to do so.

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