The trucking industry faces a record shortage of drivers and it’s adding to the supply chain bottlenecks contributing to inflation.
According to experts, it’s a shortage years in the making.
A quick search of the country’s top trucking companies shows you just how badly they need drivers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says truck driver pay typically ranges from 20- to 40 cents per mile.
This FedEx trucker job opening in Montana offers 72-cents per mile with a $2,500 sign on bonus. A $7,500 sign-on bonus and 60-cents per mile are up for grabs with this job in Mississippi and this JB Hunt job in Wisconsin offers a whopping $15,000 sign-on bonus.
“We are facing just unprecedented times. We are literally living in a shipping Armageddon," said Lior Ron.
The trucking industry is short about 80,000 drivers. The CEO of the American Trucking Associations Chris Spears tells CNN he says it comes from a combination of surging demand, vaccine mandates, and drug testing requirements.
“It’s a compounding effect; if you throw too many of those things on at one time, there’s a break point," said Spears.
According to American Trucking Associations, by the end of 2018 the industry was already short about 61,000 drivers to meet demand. Experts like Triple-A’s Andrew Gross explain how the pandemic made it worse.
"During the depths of Covid there wasn’t a big demand for these drivers so they went off and found other jobs. Some of them may be driving for amazon now," said Gross.
A trucker shortage means products are not getting out as quickly as they should. According to a report out this week by the federal reserve’s board of governors, in Richmond, Virginia, “ ports and trucking companies continued to report robust volumes and difficulties delivering those shipments because of labor and equipment shortages.”
“We’re also engaging with state DMVs to get more commercial drivers’ licenses issued," said Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary.
The Biden Administration is looking at more steps to solve this, including reportedly activating the National Guard, but says it’s largely up to the private sector at a time when more products are becoming scarce or unavailable.
Some retailers like Costco already putting purchase limits on toilet paper, bottled water and cleaning supplies -- a reminder of the empty shelves from the early days of the pandemic that no one wants to see return.