Increased government scrutiny of the safety of the nation's trucking industry is contributing to a shortage of long-haul truck drivers. But it's not resulting in more jobs for some of the nearly 13 million unemployed Americans who can't find employment, USA Today reports.
"It's getting harder to get drivers," Mike Card, president of Combined Transport of Central Point, Ore., and incoming chairman of the American Trucking Associations, tells the newspaper. "I could hire 50 guys right now," says Card, who currently employs nearly 400 truck drivers.
A rise in the number of retiring baby boomers is contributing to the dwindling numbers of commercial truck drivers, the report says.
Other factors impeding hiring of new truck drivers include:
- Young people who aren't interested in long-haul-trucking careers, which often require them be away from home for weeks at a time.
- The training course is expensive for unemployed workers. Many unemployed construction and factory workers simply can't afford the $4,000 to $6,000 cost of a six-week driver-training course to obtain a commercial driver's license and meet individual states' regulatory requirements.
- Truck drivers must be at least 21, leading many 18-year-olds who might consider trucking as a profession to pursue other trades, such as plumbing.
- Trucking companies raised their standards. Recent publication of trucking companies' safety records by the federal government have led employers to hire only drivers with unblemished records, further reducing the applicant pool.
CareerBuilder says it has more than 35,000 job openings for truck drivers in its database. The job-search portal notes that the average national salary for a licensed commercial trucker is $44,500, and the top cities hiring for these positions are Chicago, Dallas and Columbus, Ohio.
The shortage of qualified drivers has prompted some trucking firms to poach truckers from other companies.
Competition among trucking companies has become so fierce that drivers are continually lured by better offers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Job turnover rates for drivers at large, interstate fleets rose 2 percent to 90 percent during the first three months of the year, the highest in four years, according to the Trucking Activity Report, published by the American Trucking Associations.
The report notes that the rate of increase is even higher among smaller fleet operators -- up 16 percent to 71 percent.
Still, some within the industry question whether there is indeed a shortage of drivers. Rather, they say, truckers are being pickier about the jobs they are taking.
Writing recently on the Truck News Blog, a contributor named Stephen Large says he has to pay good drivers $35 to 40 an hour. "And it has to be local work, or they are not interested."
He further blames "too many ridiculous rules and regulations in the industry, and shippers and receivers who treat truck drivers poorly."
The solution to the problem is common sense, wrote another commenter, named Desiree Wood. In part, she said, "Pay a living wage [and] do not treat drivers like second class citizens."
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