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Yes, there is a Driver Shortage

by Charlotte Freed | Apr 05, 2019

Empty loading dockA 16-page research paper published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is drumming up controversy in the transportation industry. The paper analyzes truck driving like most blue-collar jobs, and American Transportation Association (ATA) Chief Economist Bob Costello believes this is a critical mistake.

Kristen Monaco, an associate commissioner for the Office of Compensation and Working Conditions at the BLS with over 20 years of industry experience, and co-author of the report, found that the trucking labor market – like any other blue-collar market – responds to increasing labor demand over time. In other words, while trucking has experienced high and persistent turnover rates, there is no evidence of a secular shortage.

Costello disagrees with the paper’s findings, explaining how the ATA consistently finds evidence of the shortage. Using demographic data of drivers provided by the Census Bureau, the ATA creates a “supply” trend forecast. This forecast is then compared to how much freight and how many trucks are needed to move that freight. Costello and the ATA’s claims are backed by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), which claims the driver shortage has remained an issue for year.

The key take away from the BLS report is that while the driver shortage may not be a secular problem, it is a concern for fleets today. Whether recruiting younger drivers, or implementing practices to limit driver turnover, fleets need to take action against the shortage.

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