Employers Desperate To Fill Truck-Driving Jobs

truck driver shortage

By Russ Bynum

Tribe Transportation is a growing company that just added 10 new trucks to its tractor-trailer fleet. The problem has been hiring people to drive them.

So far the Georgia-based company has filled four of the jobs, leaving six vacancies. The new hires are mostly veteran truckers in their 50s, men who probably won't spend too many more years behind the wheel, said Matt Handte, Tribe's executive vice president for sales and operations.

"It blows my mind that I'm looking for that many people and I can't find them," said Handte, who's also struggling to hire logistics brokers who line up freight transportation for customers such as PepsiCo, H.J. Heinz Co. and General Mills. "They aren't lined up at the door."

Even amid a struggling economy with high unemployment, trucking companies had a tough time hiring young drivers willing to hit the road for long hauls. Now as the economy recovers and demand for goods increases, the U.S. is speeding toward a critical shortage of truck drivers in the next few years, an expert in the inner-workings of supply chains said in a report Tuesday.

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U.S. companies are expected to create more than 115,000 truck driver jobs per year through 2016, but the number of Americans getting trained to fill those jobs each year is barely 10 percent of the total demand, said Page Siplon, executive director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

"Trucking accounts for how we move 80 percent of cargo in our nation" said Siplon, whose center is part of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "If we don't have enough workers, it's going to be slower and more costly to move products. If I can't move as much product to the shelves as I want to, the cost to consumers goes up."

Siplon looked at a range of supply-chain jobs -- from truck drivers and warehouse workers to air cargo supervisors -- using career-specific employment forecasts by the U.S. Department of Labor and then comparing those numbers with Education Department statistics showing how many degrees and certifications for those jobs are being earned each year.

The results found truck drivers will account for 43 percent of expected growth in logistics jobs, but those will also be the positions with the fewest workers trained to fill them.

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That doesn't surprise Tom Pronk, vice president of recruiting for C.R. England, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based company that employs 7,500 truck drivers to deliver foods from companies such as Hershey, Nestle, ConAgra and Coca-Cola to retailers.

"We have an endless need basically in the industry," Pronk said. "Everybody I talk to is very thirsty for drivers. My personal opinion is it's only going to get worse before it gets better."

Truck drivers make decent money. The Department of Labor says the median yearly wage for tractor-trailer drivers is $37,770, with some drivers earning more than $57,000. Handte and Pronk both said that some drivers can clear $100,000 a year.

Both men said older drivers are feeling pressured to retire by federal safety regulations enacted in 2010 that keep a closer watch on drivers' work hours, drug testing and any tickets or traffic citations they get on the job. And the job can be hard to sell to younger workers who don't think it's worth the money to spend days and weeks on the road away from their families.

"For our new generation who's coming into the industry, the job is not as romantic to them as it was to their predecessors," Pronk said. "It's a tough job to be an on-the-road trucker."

Truck drivers don't need college degrees but they do need to earn a commercial driver's license. That can take a month or longer of taking classes that cost $3,000 or more.

Trucking companies are trying different approaches to lure young drivers into their rigs. Some offer higher wages -- a few extra cents per mile -- or work with their drivers to carve our shorter routes designed to get them home sooner. C.R. England, which operates five driver training schools in the U.S., is refunding tuition to graduates after they work six months for the company.

David Sheehy of Greely, Colo., just graduated from the company's school in Salt Lake City. He'll be paired with an experienced driver for the next month, perhaps longer, before hitting the road on his own.

Sheehy, 32, said economic hardships in his hometown pushed him toward trucking after years of bouncing between different jobs with little stability. He drove a tow truck, worked for a car rental company and even was an umpire calling little league and high school baseball games. He's single and excited about seeing new parts of the country. And he's eager to earn steady pay.

"It is truly a special breed," Sheehy said. "You're talking about long hours, weeks on the road at a time, time away from family. There are a lot of negative things.

"But they told me a first-year driver can gross $40,000 a year easily," he said. "You're taking about financial security there."

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I make $50000 + and I am home every day. Great job great benefits and retirement! :)
Driving only sucks if you drive for a company that sucks!

February 18 2015 at 9:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

better off with a skill like carpentry or masonary trucks suck

February 11 2015 at 5:36 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

anyone knows any good trucking company.i was thinking about werner or knight.

August 02 2014 at 9:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
William Muse

I think truck companies are way too hard on drivers who have been unfortunate enough to have had an accident. I had an accident that wasn't even All MY FAULT even though I was driving. My driver trainer had me drive when I shouldn't have been according to company rules. I was laid-off from a company where I had worked for 26 years. I used up all my Unemployment and extensions and couldn't find a job, so I went to tractor trailer training school, and got my CDL in May. I still didn't get hired until December of 2013. Unfortunately after only a week on the road, I had an accident. The company I was with terminated me, and I have been being treated like I have the plague since. I've driven cars for almost 40 years without a major accident. I need a second chance, but no one will give me one.

February 12 2014 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Its A Ripoff

Well,..they are running out of fools is what's happening.
The pay is crap..when ya figure a 70 hour workweek on call at
weird hours...like all nighters..after taxes ad food you wont
be buying anything expensive. Cops will be on ur back until
you are blue in the face. Dispatchers treating you like ur an
annoying piece of doodoo stuck on his shoe. Sickening and a huge
Waste of time sums up a job in trucking.

December 31 2012 at 12:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

People who love travelling they show interest mostly.But other wise it is a boring job i say!


December 06 2012 at 6:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

By the way. C R England is one of the Worse Trucking Companies out thier.

November 06 2012 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Trucking is a JOKE. 40 Grand is a SLAP in the face. 2-3 weeks out on the road sleeping in Truck Stop Parking lots. Dealing with JERK OFFS on both ends of your job. Dispatchers who could give a **** about you. Shippers and Recievers that treat you like Crap. Go to a Pick-up and sit for Hours with NO PAY. Drive 500 miles and because they use mileage off an GPS program they pay you for 450 miles. I could go on and on. Being a Truck Driver is not what it once was. It's all about who will pull your Freight the Cheapest. Trucking SUCKS. If anyone tells you any Different, They must own the Company.

November 06 2012 at 7:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Stay away from this industry, big companies prey on young inexperienced drivers when veterans of the industry would not work for them. I am a small company with 2 trucks, steady freight with great rates. The 20 plus yrs in the profession means nothing anymore as I have to follow the same regulations as a new driver fresh outta driving school yesterday. How many professions have the same regulations for a seasoned veteran and a rookie. I think a graduated license is a good idea. Let older more experienced driver that have shown to be accident and ticket free a little more range. I have driven 20 plus yrs and been around the industry almost 35. Its truly a great profession with HUGE sacrifices but the regs are getting out of hand.

November 04 2012 at 10:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Big Daddy

I'm a driver with a GREAT company. I'm home 2 sometimes 3 nights a week and always home on Saturdays. I make $50,000 + a year with great benefits. I actually have my teaching license but can't find a teaching job. Plus, it pays almost twice what a starting teacher would make. I'm just very happy to have a job and be able support my family. If you don't like the driving job you're in, quit and good luck getting another job. Remember, If you bought it, a truck brought it. God bless the truck driver. It is a hard job and they sacrifice alot.

November 03 2012 at 9:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Big Daddy's comment

Big Daddy, who do you work for?

March 04 2013 at 2:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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