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Logistics companies use every conceivable shipping method to get items from point A to point B. Planes, trains, and ocean liners help with many logistical endeavors. Yet it’s the truck drivers who finish every delivery – dropping off goods at the warehouse, store, or customer’s home.
But across the nation, logistics companies and shipping fleets are experiencing an enormous employment gap when it comes to hiring truck drivers. This driver shortage is impacting every point of the supply chain and is expected to cause significant financial repercussions for businesses and consumers.
Driver Shortage Expected to Increase Over the Next Decade
Truckers move more than 70% of products across the country, a process that requires thousands of drivers to commit to spending months out on the road, away from their families. And many long-haul drivers feel the pay is unfair when you consider the hours of commitment needed to accomplish the job. Fair pay is a major factor contributing to a lack of available qualified drivers.
On the plus side, drivers have the freedom to travel around the country and fulfill their wanderlust. Hours on the road are peaceful, and many consider it a relatively easy job. But it can also be isolating and isn’t a good fit for everyone. So how many drivers are needed to meet shipping demands?
Every year, the shipping industry needs to hire an astounding 90,000 drivers to steer trucks across the county. This year, the industry is short by about 50,000 drivers. If shippers are continuously unable to fill open positions, this figure could as much as triple as we head into the next decade.
Rising Costs Felt Across the Supply Chain
With fewer drivers, shippers are forced to come up with creative ways to make up for the shortage, and their solutions don’t come without pain points. The few drivers who are available must make more delivery runs, which increases fuel costs and truck maintenance and repair costs for shipping fleets.
On the retail side, stores are dealing with product shortages and delivery delays. Some are going so far as to offer fewer products from select manufacturers to simplify inventory. That causes the problem to trickle down to manufacturers, who find their warehouses overflowing with product that’s not selling. These companies face increased costs due to waste.
As the job gap widens, shippers are looking for ways to lure able workers into the shipping industry. Many fleet companies are offering more competitive wages that reflect current cost-of-living expenses, paying for on-the-job training, and providing incentives to drivers. Yet shippers must also keep their budgets balanced in order to compete in their market segment.
Finding willing, qualified long-haul drivers is an ongoing dilemma that will continue to affect shippers, manufacturers, truck drivers and ultimately, consumers. As a business owner, finding a competitive, affordable, reliable shipper will help shield you from increased costs.