While professionals in some industries are struggling to find work due to a low number of vacancies, trucking companies are scouring the country in an effort to find drivers to fill open positions.
Department of Labor statistics place the number of professional truck drivers at 3.5 million individuals, but a number of the older members of the industry are retiring in the coming years, leaving a significant amount of open positions.
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported that the baby boomers are reaching the age of retirement and, despite the relatively high salary for many trucking positions, fewer young people are interested in long-haul trucking careers.
One industry executive noted that the average age of a driver at her company is 54.
“In the long haul, it’s the time away from home, the missed birthdays, the missed holidays. It’s not for everyone,” Michael Koch, president of K&J Trucking in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, told the news outlet. “It’s not an easy job, so when they’re young and looking at what you’re career is going to be they don’t say, ‘I want to drive truck.’”
The American Trucking Associations have estimated that the sector is short by roughly 20,000 drivers, and this number could skyrocket to 111,000 by 2014 if the current demographic and market conditions continue to hold, according to the Argus Leader.
NBC 4 News Tucson reported that this lack of potential drivers is a nationwide problem, as people may either be unable to pass driver compliance tests or are unfit for life on the road.
According to the news outlet, the average pay for truckers is increasing in order to make the job more desirable. Another strategy that companies are trying is to highlight the importance of the job within the broader economy, as estimates put forth by the ATA note that trucks deliver 70 percent of all freight tonnage in the U.S.
The organization also noted that roughly 80 percent of American communities receive their goods exclusively by truck.
David Radke of Lee Trans Servces