Recently we posted on this page an article about the rising costs of so many things, from groceries and consumer goods to building materials. While there are a number of factors driving up costs, one that is seldom appreciated by the consumer is the trucker shortage – the people who drive the trucks that carry products across the US. This dearth of drivers is a key reason why store shelves are lacking inventory – in many cases, there is simply no one to take finished products to warehouses and retailers.
Indeed, while this is not a new concern, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the shortage of long-haul truckers in the US, precisely at a time when more of these professionals are needed to cope with the surge in e-commerce and deliveries of foodstuffs and other items. Key causes of the trucker shortage include:
- low wages relative to other traditionally “blue-collar” jobs
- long hours and frequent periods of absence from family and friends, which make it difficult for people to remain in the industry
- frequent delays in unloading and loading trucks, which can limit the amount of time drivers can actually spend on the road – drivers are generally paid by the mile, so these delays literally cost drivers time and money
- frustrations about a lack of safety protocols (such as access to masks and PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic
- the lack of younger truckers to replace older drivers retiring out of the industry
- competition from last-mile and short-haul driving jobs that have boomed along with e-commerce and food delivery, but often require less training and definitely require more regular scheduling and/or less time away from home
With no immediate solution to this shortage of long-haul professionals on the horizon, logistics professionals will continue to look for creative solutions while manufacturers, store managers, and – ultimately – the US consumer will continue to experience higher prices and delivery delays.
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