If there are 1.8 million drivers insisting there’s a truck driver shortage, it would be easily taken as fact.
But what about the truck drivers looking at their huge force and saying, what shortage?
But if you’ve been listening to the news, everyone else is saying that the truck driver shortage in America is extensive. Warning bells have been going off in the industry for years. The American Trucking Association says that America is short 50,000 truck drivers and by 2026, 898,000 new truck drivers will need to be recruited.
So what gives?
Is the Truck Driver Shortage Real?
Statistics are tricky. While the American Trucking Association reports a huge need for truck drivers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the truck-driver shortage is often blown out of proportion.
“As a whole, the market for truck drivers appears to work as well as any other blue-collar labor market, and while it tends to be ‘tight,’ it imposes no constraints on entry into (or exit from) the occupation,” says BLS. “There is thus no reason to think that, given sufficient time, driver supply should fail to respond to price signals in the standard way.”
That likely comes as good news to truck drivers, fleet owners, businesses, and everyone that consumes goods anywhere. Such a shortage would mean a huge bump in prices across industries and delivery slowdowns.
Still, the turnover rate for the employees in the trucking industry has never been higher. Economists, though, would look at that turnover and not necessarily think it spells doom and gloom. High turnover rates don’t mean there will always be a shortage. It just might mean that there will be high turnover rates. In other words, economists are not lead to the same conclusions as others speculating about the industry.
They would not “call these conditions a ‘broken market,’ except to the extent that one might use that term for a secondary labor market segment since the high turnover that marks such a segment is an indicator that the jobs in it are unattractive to many potential employees.” This was expressed in a report published in BLS’s Month Labor Review.
Truck drivers that are actually working in the industry are taking home higher wages because of the “shortage” whether it’s only perceived or actually true. Some have even reported taking home bonuses of up to $20,000 dollars as an incentive to stay.
At the bottom of the issue, the BLS says that there isn’t actually a truck driver shortage. There is a shortage of people who want to work 70 hours a week for $42,000. Perhaps what needs to change is the structure of the job itself.
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