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ATA: Qualified Truck Driver Shortage Worsening

The shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. has grown to nearly 48,000 and could expand further due to industry growth and a retiring workforce, according to analysis by the American Trucking Associations.

“The ability to find enough qualified drivers is one of our industry’s biggest challenges,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “This latest report plainly lays out the problem – as well as some possible solutions – to the driver shortage.”

The report, ATA’s fourth major analysis since 2005, shows that by the end of 2015, the driver shortage will reach nearly 48,000. If current trends hold, the shortage may balloon to almost 175,000 by 2024.

“An important thing we learned in this analysis is that this isn’t strictly a numbers problem, it is a quality problem too,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “Fleets consistently report receiving applications for open positions, but that many of those candidates do not meet the criteria to be hired. According our research, 88% of carriers said most applicants are not qualified.”

Other key findings of the report:

  • Over the next decade, trucking will need to hire 890,000 new drivers, or an average of 89,000 per year.
  • Roughly half, 45%, of demand for drivers comes from the need to replace retiring drivers; industry growth is the second leading driver of new hiring, accounting for 33% of the need.
  • ATA’s analysis does not factor in the impact of federal regulations – like electronic logging – on the shortage.

“Our work shows the great and growing need for drivers,” Costello said, “but we also highlight several solutions including increasing driver pay, getting drivers more time at home, as well as improving the image of the driver and their treatment by all companies in the supply chain. Make no mistake, the driver shortage is a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one.”

For a copy of ATA’s Driver Shortage Analysis paper, click here.

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