Why There’s A Shortage Of Truck Drivers In America

A semi-truck move slowly through blowing and falling snow as a strong winter storm passes through the Midwest Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. Temperatures not seen in years are likely to set records in the coming days across the Midwest, Northeast and South, creating dangerous travel conditions and prompting church and school closures. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

There is a shortage of truck drivers in the United States.

Unsurprisingly, that’s leading to a bidding war for qualified truckers among the big companies. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the need for 48,000 truckers in an industry of 800,000.

It’s not shocking that the country faces a trucker shortage: Days on the job are long, it’s hard to have a family, and drivers are required to be in a seat and watch the road for hours at a time. In addition to that, pay bumps couldn’t even keep up with inflation between 2000 and 2014.

This chart shows how median truck driver salaries have grown since 2000 (the green line). It also shows how a driver’s salary in 2000 would have changed if it had simply kept up with inflation (the purple line).

When the green line dips below the purple line — salaries since 2008, basically — that means pay isn’t keeping up with inflation. At the beginning of 2014, a truck driver’s salary was effectively lower than it was in 2000. (The numbers are slightly different than those in the WSJ, because the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes other kinds of drivers, like FedEx drivers and local delivery driver, in addition to long-haul drivers.)

But the data in the chart stops in 2014, just when things started to change in the industry. Companies began working to remedy the shortage in the economically proven way to increase demand: by offering more money.

Read more here.

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