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Driver Shortage Increase Costs
The shortage of commercial truck drivers is a good news-bad news proposition, depending on your perspective. Anyone who already has a CDL can find steady employment almost anywhere in the country. The downside, though, is that the scarcity of drivers means fewer goods are being shipped, which could result in higher prices for consumers.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the United States will need about 330,000 more truck drivers by 2020. Some industry experts believe that figure is conservative. The reasons for the shortage are many.
Steve McCourt, vice president of G&P Trucking says, “There’s a quality-of-life issue. In other words, a driver is out on the road and not at home, so he doesn’t spend every night at home. There’s pay issues, where people believe the industry has to work too hard to get the driver pay up, which we believe too.”
The current crop of drivers is an aging group, with the national average age 55, meaning the shortage could get worse before it gets better as these drivers near retirement age. Also, some construction workers and others who found themselves unemployed used trucking as a stop gap job and are now leaving to go back to their preferred employment.
The shortage comes at a time when the economy is improving, so consumers are willing to spend more, creating a great demand for goods in general. But as the housing market rebounds, there will also be a dire need for building materials, which are largely moved by truck.
McCourt says there’s not much that won’t see a price increase. “If there’s a demand for the movement of goods throughout our supply chain and there’s a limited supply of drivers, then basically capacity gets squeezed, and when that happens prices go up.”
Likewise, if carriers are forced to raise pay to attract desperately needed drivers, those costs will filter down to the consumer as well. So either way, Americans are likely to feel the driver shortage in their pocketbooks in the foreseeable future.