It is time to reflect on the supposed “truck driver shortage” we keep hearing about from pundits on TV and certain lobbying groups I don’t care to name. We heard it verbatim that “America needs 80,000 drivers to stay functionable.” Well, let’s talk about it and get this out of the briars.
Where exactly is the industry 80,000 drivers short?
If you take notice as you go down the interstate or drive around the local industrial park, there are trucks everywhere. So many, in fact, there are not enough parking spaces for all to have a legal and safe parking spot.
Yet every day on the mainstream TV channels, all I hear is “ATA says there’s a catastrophic shortage of truckers and America is going to have empty shelves and no toilet paper.” I can tell you that there’s no shortage of truck drivers “currently” and it’s not the truckers’ fault that shelves are partly bare. Go blame someone else for that.
So why do the mega-carriers keep screaming “We need more drivers now!” The reason is their turnover rates, and they’re freaking huge. So huge they exceed 100%, meaning they need multiple hirings in order to pray that one sticks.
Honest pay for honest work is all drivers want
Next question: why is the turnover rate so high? Answer: in my opinion, supply and demand. You have an industry built on efficiency. Not the good kind of efficiency that gets you bonuses for high load counts and completed contracts. Instead, it’s payroll efficiency.
It means that the carriers can keep pay rates low because there’s always that one sucker that takes the $0.10 or $0.20 per mile advertisement. And as long there’s a constant supply of suckers willing to work for peanuts, the mega-carriers have no reason to raise rates.
With the recent fuel, commodity, and food price hikes, many truckers could not afford even beanie weenies from a truck stop and had to seek work elsewhere. That led to a big ballyhoo of carriers having sunlight shown on the practice of cheap pay, as well as some drivers being worked to the bone, and some to the grave.
The recent trucker payroll price hike, made famous by names like Walmart, was a ploy, I think, to force the Biden administration to push some more money into the recent Congressional spending spree.
There’s not a driver shortage now, but there might be one soon
The truck driver shortage is not happening right now, but I think that forward thinkers who have a good birds-eye view of the situation know what’s coming – many of those currently driving are approaching retirement.
According to one article, 75% or more of the truckers in the U.S. are over 40, meaning a vast culling of the flock is coming soon and carriers need to prepare. And they are using every tool in the book to hire, retain and even import drivers from other countries to fill the gaping wound soon to be opened by retirees.
Imagine for a moment the situation we would be in if three-quarters of the truck drivers climb off their seats and those seats are not filled. People complain about not being able to get their daily necessities now, with interstates awash with trucks.
The next time a TV pundit complains of a trucker shortage, please ask him or her to use the scientific method to explain how there is such a thing. I’m tired of having to say that there is not one now, but there might be one soon™.
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