Midwest, United States. – The US unemployment rate is below 4 percent right now. In many states that number is considerably lower. The low unemployment rate is great for the economy, but it’s wreaking havoc on the trucking industry looking for truck drivers and jobs that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Trucking industry expert James Walker says low unemployment opens up more job opportunities for job seekers. Unfortunately, it also detracts from the number of CDL drivers on the road.
“All the Baby Boomers are retiring or lifting pallets. Since this industry requires a lot of travel, it keeps a lot of people from wanting to become truckers,” Walker said.
In the Midwest, the city recently caught a waste management company for falling behind on garbage collection. The company said it needed more drivers to fill its routes and began offering hiring bonuses. As the global economy has strengthened, the demand for trucks to transport goods has outstripped the supply of drivers, leading carriers to charge higher rates and companies to raise product prices, in some cases up to 20%.
Other companies nationwide are dealing with late deliveries. The driver shortage has been building for some time, younger generations have shown less interest in the industry and wages were not comparable for hours away from home. Driver burnout is also a problem faced by large fleets; turnover increased at an annual percentage rate of 95 percent last year, according to the latest figures.
According to the American Trucking Associations, the country is facing a record shortage that needs 50,000 drivers to meet current demand.
Many companies now offer great login bonuses as an incentive. However, instead of solving the shortage, most drivers simply jump from one company to another.
Darren Hawkins, CEO of one of the nation’s largest freight carriers, YRC Trucking, said the severity of the shortage means we need to make it easier for women, youth and minorities to get to CDLs. “There is an industry problem, and that is we have to do a better job of attracting new people to the driving occupation, previous audiences that we haven’t reached,” Hawkins said. “Right now, the American Trucking Associations say we’re short on tens of thousands of drivers, and those numbers are going to continue to grow. So we have to open up other pieces.”
Facing a record shortage of drivers, trucking companies “are adjusting because they have to,” said Kevin Reid, founder of the National Minority Trucking Association. “The industry hasn’t focused on recruiting and retaining the next generation,” Reid said. “Trucking is an industry that needs a rebrand. There was a cool factor for trucking in the 1970s and 1980s. We don’t have that now, so the question is, how are we going to get there? next generation of truckers?
Kristina Jackson, a 22-year-old African-American truck driver living in Raleigh, NC, is exactly the kind of person the trucking industry wants to attract. After graduating from college, she wanted a job that would allow her to travel and be financially independent. She never considered trucking until her boyfriend’s father, a truck driver, encouraged her to try it.
A year into driving, he is constantly reminded that he is an outlier in the industry.
“When people found out I was on trucking, they were shocked at my gender and age,” she said. “The first thing you think of is an old white man. People say to me, ‘You don’t look like a trucker. I say, ‘What’s a trucker like?'”
Ms. Jackson believes more young people could be easily persuaded to join the industry, adding that she personally recruited 10 of her friends in their twenties. But she thinks recruiters have so far done a poor job of showcasing young truckers in the industry.
“When people think of truckers, they don’t see our faces,” Jackson said of young drivers.
Women and minorities make up only fractions of the overall trucking population: 94 percent of drivers are men and two-thirds of all drivers are white, according to a 2017 report released by the American Trucking Associations.
There are solutions to the CDL shortage.
One of the solutions to help with the shortage would be to allow drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 to cross state lines. Currently, drivers ages 18-21 are not allowed to cross state lines under CDL law. The US Department of Transportation has started a military driver program that allows military personnel between the ages of 18 and 21 to drive from one state to another.
The Trump administration and the industry are also trying to ease the problem by relaxing federal rules and enticing non-traditional drivers like women, teens and minorities to operate large trucks. By passing your CDL test and driving commercial vehicles and trucks that require a CDL, you’ll end up with a great paying job with benefits. The first step is to pass your CDL test that allows you to obtain your CDL permit (CLP) using this CDL Test Questions resource.
Even for jobs in your city that do not require travel. You can start at $50,000.00 with benefits and go up to $100,00.00.
The local opportunities are endless and include: dump trucks, dump trucks, concrete mixer trucks, side dumps, and even a job as a school bus driver.
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