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The Driver Shortage: What You Need to Know

Covid-19 and the Global Supply Chain

COVID-19 has done a number on the global supply chain. You can’t watch the news, read a newspaper, or scroll through Facebook without seeing pictures of cargo containers languishing on ships at the major US ports. It’s a problem that isn’t going away any time soon.

The congestion is dependent on many factors from customer demand and a strong economy to a shortage of workers, truckers, warehouse space, and trucks. The driver shortage which we’ve been aware of for years is getting renewed attention due to these other aggravating shortages. A recent article in The Atlantic Monthly asks the question, 

“And what about the truckers who are needed to drive materials between warehouses, ports, stores, and houses? They’re dealing with a multidimensional shortage too. Supply-chain woes have backed up orders for parts, such as resin for roof caps and vinyl for seats. But there’s also a crucial lack of people to actually drive the rigs. The Minnesota Trucking Association estimates that the country has a shortage of about 60,000 drivers, due to longtime recruitment issues, early retirements, and COVID-canceled driving-school classes.”

Derek Thompson, “America Is Running Out of Everything,” The Atlantic Monthly

The Driver Shortage

The shortage isn’t new. Since 2005, the American Trucking Associations have been warning of the ongoing driver shortage. In a report published in 2019, the ATA’s Bob Costello wrote that in 2018 the “trucking industry was short roughly 60,800 drivers” up from 2017’s estimate of 50,700. He predicted that the shortage could “swell to over 160,000 by 2028.” 

Costello explains that the shortage is a complex problem dependent on several variables including a high median age (46), a low percentage of women and minorities in the field, a difficult lifestyle (being on the road for extended periods of time), alternative jobs, and ever-changing regulations which means more truckers are required to deliver the same amount of freight.

So if it’s not new, why is the shortage of American truck drivers getting so much press now? Here at AM Transport, we’ve often written of the shortage as a turnover or a retention problem. But today, in light of the complexity of supply chain difficulties–it no longer behooves us to tease out the difference between a shortage and a retention problem. Either one contributes to the overall problem of low supply and high demand.

We hear a lot about the American consumer worried about a Christmas without gifts, but what about the manufacturers and distributors dealing with tender rejections, service failures, and skyrocketing rates?

What you can do.

During and post-pandemic, we’ve continued to help the manufacturers, distributors, and carriers we’re lucky to work with because we have long-term relationships with folks all along the supply chain and it makes a difference. The driver shortage will continue to hinder a smooth supply chain, so your best bet is to work with a freight broker like AM Transport.

Why?

Because we work with a core group of about 10,000 midwestern carriers. These carriers are small-to-midsize companies with low driver turnover, exceptional safety ratings, and long, healthy business histories. They work with our team because we pay quickly, we provide great technology, we answer our own phones 24/7/365 days a year, and we’re honest and reliable. 

Our long-term relationships with these carriers means that you don’t have to vet carriers yourself. You don’t have to fret about where your freight is or worry about liabilities. It also means that you always receive a fair rate and exceptional service.

Yes, the driver shortage is a problem, and it’s probably showing up in the higher-than-average freight rates you’re paying. You can do better. Give us a call at AM Transport, and we’ll show you that the right freight broker can make a difference in your bottom line. 

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