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Is the Truck Driver Shortage a Myth?

You’ve likely heard about a truck driver shortage on the news these past few years. The supply chain has been struggling to keep up since the beginning of the pandemic, and almost three years later, certain products are still difficult to come by.

Many reports would have you believe the reason for the struggle is a lack of labor. It’s encouraging to potential drivers. After all, an in-demand career promising freedom is enticing, where work is so easy to acquire there are companies practically begging for someone to come pick up shipments. A company in Texas was even reported to offer experienced drivers $14,000 per week in mid-2021.

It seems too good to be true. Are there really goods sitting in storage units with nobody to deliver them? Are there unmanned trucks waiting for someone to take on the job of driving them? Let’s explore the truck driver shortage and uncover the truth behind it.

The current state of the trucking industry

According to the U.S. Bureau of labor statistics, the average median pay of a truck driver in 2021 was $48,310 yearly for the roughly two million drivers currently working American highways. While this is a decent salary, it doesn’t reflect a massive shortage, which ought to result in spiking wages for those taking on the jobs.

The shortage is typically associated with long-haul trucking, which is a different animal entirely. The U.S. Department of Transportation tells us there are around 400,000 long-haul truckers in America, and that there are roughly 450,000 new commercial driver’s licenses issued each year. A great deal of these licenses are issued to would-be long-haul truckers. These numbers suggest there should be a surplus of drivers. So why do we keep being told that there’s a shortage? Could it be a myth, or is there some truth to it?

Entry-level truck drivers aren’t sticking around

In theory, a promising career in a thriving industry should be attractive for the long term. But if that were the case, trucking would be highly competitive. The numbers only work in competition’s favor, however, if drivers are sticking around. For newer drivers, this is overwhelmingly not the case.

In 2020, the annual turnover rate for long-haul trucking was a staggering 92% for large companies, and 72% for smaller businesses. Drivers are not only quitting positions regularly, they’re leaving the industry altogether. So this isn’t to say that the shortage is a myth, but rather that it’s an incomplete story.

Why is turnover so high in trucking?

Trucking, especially long-haul trucking, can be a challenging field. Long hours, time spent away from family, and uncomfortable conditions lead to some people getting burned out. Economics have stepped in to boost pay in many cases, but drivers who receive a pay raise often use it to work fewer hours and spend more time at home. This leaves the problem unresolved.

A major problem is that good jobs are difficult to come by, especially for new drivers. A sad reality of long-haul trucking is that many jobs pay by the mile rather than hourly, so issues like traffic delays and inclement weather can take a chunk out of a paycheck that looked better on paper. In some cases, drivers arrive for pickups only to find out they must wait for several unpaid hours just to get their truck loaded. Workers often move from company to company in search of an employer they actually want to work for. It’s an exhausting process for drivers and employers alike, so burnout is common.

So is the shortage fact or fiction?

The answer to whether there’s a truck driver shortage or not is tricky. On one hand, there are many open positions available. But there’s a powerful reason behind why those positions are available, and ignoring it to focus solely on how easily a new driver will find work isn’t entirely honest. The reality is that yes, there is a shortage of drivers, but there is also a shortage of quality entry-level jobs.

So is the trucking industry best avoided?

Not at all! Just because good jobs are hard to come by doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Trucking has the potential to be an incredibly rewarding career choice. The allure of the open road is still just as powerful as it’s always been, and trucking is a great opportunity to do work that benefits not only yourself, but your community and society as a whole. It just isn’t as easy as some news headlines make it out to be.

If you’re new to driving, you’ll be racing against others to find good jobs, and you might find that you’re wasting precious time and effort just looking for employers you want to work for. But there’s an easy way to avoid this process entirely. Partnering with a temp agency for truck drivers allows you to focus on doing work instead of finding it. It’s the best of both worlds.

Employers can benefit from partnership too

The retention problem also has a negative effect on employers, and not just those seeking to fill undesirable positions. Quality employers are still a part of an industry in massive flux. Finding and screening drivers to work your positions is an exhausting process, and it can waste precious time better spent developing your business.

Employers can partner with a temp agency to help reduce potential setbacks. It can even boost retention rates in existing employees by allowing employers to easily fill their roles while they take vacations or sick days. By creating a more desirable work environment, you’ll find that the good drivers tend to stick around longer.

Partner with Temp Drivers for a leg up in the trucking industry.

Temp Drivers is the nation’s best temp agency for truck drivers. We provide new and experienced drivers with flexible, quality work that meets their immediate needs. We also provide businesses with reliable drivers to staff their vehicles and get important work done quickly.

Even if you’re looking for long-term work, Temp Drivers is one of the best ways to find it. You can work on a short term contract with an employer, and if you both decide it’s a good fit, they can buy out your contract. There’s no risk of entering into a long-term commitment with a company you don’t want to work with, and there’s no risk of signing on someone for the long haul who isn’t a good fit. Contact us today to learn more.