The month of April ended on a high note for the American economy, with unemployment falling below 4 percent for the first time since the close of 2000. However, new employment in trucking specifically fell short last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This April drop by 5,500 follows a March jump of 7,200. This is the first time in eight months hiring in the trucking industry has hit a downturn.
So what’s up with that? And how does this factor into the ongoing driver shortage?
Circumstances in the freight industry have somewhat stabilized after the end of the year brought a noticeable swell of demand, but the trucking industry still faces a very real driver shortage.
In 2017, the American Trucking Association pointed out that the trucking industry needs an additional 50,000 drivers. Kevin Burch, immediate past ATA chairman, has even been quoted claiming that the trucking industry needs 100,000 more new drivers per year for the next 10 years to address the industry-wide driver shortage.
In the past, we’ve examined women as a possible solution to the shortage. Also, many carriers have upped wages and benefits to attempt to appeal to and keep drivers around. According to indeed.com, the average entry level truck driver salary is around $52,375 per year. Of course, upping salaries and benefits is much easier said than done.
While hiring efforts went well during the first quarter of the year, this chart shows just how much more needs to be done.
Are you currently experiencing an influx of jobs and with not enough drivers to go around?
It might be time to think beyond the kinds of drivers that would typically be attracted to trucking as a career. In addition to targeting women and sweetening the deal for drivers in regard to salary and benefits, here are some other ideas about what small and large companies alike could do to help solve this driver shortage:
Target minorities and veterans - Veterans could be looking to shift from the military into another meaningful career. Also, like women, minorities have a small showing in the trucking industry. Out of a population of 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S., only 38.75% are minorities, according to the ATA.
Shift focus to hiring younger drivers - Truck drivers are an aging population, with the average age sitting at 49 years old (seven years older than the average American worker) and many drivers retiring. According to ATA data, the average age of a private fleet truck driver is now 52, followed by 50 years old for less than load (LTL) carriers, 49 years old for full truck load (FTL) carriers, and 47 years old for drayage operators.
When it comes to an aging workforce like this, it’s worth looking into hiring younger drivers who typically have a higher rate of unemployment anyway.