On Thursday July 8th, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hosted a roundtable to discuss truck driver recruitment and retention.
Retention Versus Recruitment
The “shortage” (the economic law of supply and demand impacting market rates and therefore carriers paying a premium to have truckers being shelved for the purposes of this article) is caused by two separate factors. First, the industry is having a hard time obtaining drivers. Second, it is having a hard time keeping them.
On their announcement page, the Department of Transportation (DOT) cited Commercial Carrier’s Journal which cited the American Trucking Associations that annual turnover rate in the trucking industry varies from over 72-90%, depending on if the carrier is small or large, respectively. There are a few drivers that will work with a company for years, and others will quit after a month, but it averages out to where for every ten hires, there are seven to nine departures per year.
The retention problem is furthered by the costs related to recruiting and onboarding. If a driver leaves, a new one is needed to fill the seat, and the process begins again.
The other problem is the industry getting new blood into its system. Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that the median age of a truck driver is approximately 46.5, and the number is growing slowly but surely each year.
In short, the roundtable was to tell the industry that regulators are listening and working to help alleviate the issue of getting more workers. The FMCSA in particular said it is doing its part to get more CDLs in the hands of drivers as state DMVs start offering driver tests. Since the start of 2021, 50,000 CDLs have been issued each month, which is 14% higher than in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic took a sledgehammer to the economy.
If you want our opinion, we hinted at it near the start of the article. Carriers are best suited to utilize the law supply and demand to get more truckers hired and to stay on board. If an extra cent-per-mile pay increase encourages more truckers to stay with the company, then that company more than makes back the investment on reducing lost time and recruitment costs.
With the economy opening up and more places hiring than there are people to fill them, carriers will have to do what they can to convince drivers why they should work, and continue to work, for them.
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