There are numerous factories contributing to higher freight shipping rates for trucking in the US, including capacity and the lack of truck drivers available. The good news is that truck driver hiring is on the rise. In 2014, the number of new truck driver positions filled almost doubled from the same number during the previous year. Meanwhile, trucking tonnage increased by 3.5% last year. This hiring trend continued into 2015, with January 2015 hiring up 3.5% from the previous January. The Journal of Commerce has been tracking all of this data, and their trucking employment index is at 99.5 currently.
Despite this rise in newly hired truckers, the demand from shippers and freight forwarders is still too great. The number of truck drivers hired doesn’t even make a big dent in the truck driver shortage. Currently, there are more trucking jobs available than qualified truckers. It is estimated that there is a truck driver shortage greater than 30,000. That number is expected to balloon to 240,000 by the year 2020 in the US.
It seems that most people, especially young people, are avoiding joining the trucking industry as a driver. There are many reasons for this. People are scared of the long hours that truck drivers have to work. The wages for truck drivers have been stagnant. There are health problems that truck drivers face. And there is an overall branding problem with the job. Unless the trucking industry can fix these issues, then there will always be a shortage of truck drivers. And that means numerous shipments may not even make it on the road.