The shortage of truck drivers has grown to nearly 48,000 and could expand further due to a combination of industry growth and a retiring workforce, according to the American Trucking Associations' Truck Driver Shortage Analysis for 2015.
A booming economy and a strong dollar have caused increased demand for imported goods that must be transported via the $700 billion trucking industry. Trucking represents 68.8 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation. The American Trucking Associations reported that the all-time high of tonnage was reached in January of this year.
Put all these factors in the mix and the ATA believes that trucking will need to hire an average of 89,000 drivers per year over the next decade.
"The ability to find enough qualified drivers is one of our industry's biggest challenges," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.
The ATA stated that the truck driver shortage could be attributed to the relatively high median age industrywide.
Interstate laws require drivers to be 21 years old — eliminating younger candidates while losing retiring baby boomers. The study also found that only 6 percent of truck drivers are women at a time when other industries are hiring more and more females. The ATA said recruiting problems are caused in part by truck drivers living a difficult, unconventional lifestyle, with long and tiring on-road hours.
"Make no mistake, the driver shortage is a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one," said ATA chief economist Bob Costello.
The ATA proposes the following solutions to address the shortage:
In the meantime, Costello and economic analyst Rod Suarez believe the industry should "expect driver pay to continue rising as long as the driver shortage continues."