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Where Have All The Truck Drivers Gone?

The US is home to 3.2 million truck drivers and it needs another 30,000 to fuel our economy but there are few to be found.  From big rigs to auto parts delivery, everything we buy gets to us by truck.  The shortage has been an ongoing issue that has recently kicked into high gear as our economy has improved.

Driver shortages always occur when the economy strengthens.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2012 data, tractor trailer drivers make a median salary of $38,000 annually.  At this pay rate, when jobs open up at home drivers happily leave the road for employment that allows them to be at home with their friends and family.

Additionally, changes in regulatory legislation have put trucking companies in the position where it takes more drivers to do the same work.  In January, hours of service changes went into effect.  The intended purpose of these changes was to keep sleepy overworked drivers off the roads.  An unintended consequence of this legislation has been the need for more drivers to keep pace with the same demand.

What does this mean for shippers?  Rates are on the rise and capacity continues to tighten making it difficult to keep the wheels of the supply chain moving with the same cost and efficiency it saw 6 months ago.  Those shippers who built and maintained carrier relationships during the slow times will be much further ahead than those who took a slash and burn approach, dumping incumbent carriers for those who were mitigating drops in revenue with bargain basement rates.

The good news?  It has never been a better time to partner with a transportation broker.  Transportation brokers have access to 1000’s of carriers nationally in a variety of modes and equipment types..  These relationships have been sustained and fostered through the recession and now that the economy has turned around, they can provide a one stop source for service and cost savvy shipper solutions.



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