Pandemic Intensifies Truck Driver Shortage
As the pandemic begins to slow down, the pent-up demand for buying things has sped up. That has impacted a worker shortage in an area you may not think about.
Trucking Services In Demand
Andrew Starner with Master Transfer Logistics (MTL) in Brooklyn Park calls the trucking industry the lifeblood of the economy.
“The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the things that are in your house, things in your car, everything comes in transported by a semi,” said Starner.
MTL owns about 700 trailers, but Starner says the problem is there’s not enough drivers.
“We currently have 40 and 60 drivers ranging from class A to class B to class C drivers,” he said.
MTL will host a career fair June 12 in hopes of finding quality drivers to add to the team.
The shortage in drivers has been a long-standing problem nationwide. John Hausladen, president of Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA), said COVID-19 has made the problem worse.
“The growth of online shopping has really fueled a lot of these other freight demands,” he said.
Hauseladen said currently the trucking industry has a shortage of 60,000 drivers. In 10 years, the industry would need to hire about 1 million new drivers to keep up with increasing freight demand and workforce retirements.
“That doesn’t mean it won’t be delivered, it will be delivered but it might be slightly slower than you expect because there’s such a demand on the system,” Hauseladen said.
Recruiting Truck Drivers
In an effort to get more qualified drivers behind the big rig, the industry has changed routes to get people home more regularly. Equipment has also changed dramatically, that includes the safety, comfort and technology.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) is also urging lawmakers to enact the DRIVE Safe Act, which would allow qualified 18 to 20-year-olds to drive trucks in interstate commerce. Currently to drive a semi on interstate highways, drivers need to be at least 21.
Not only is trucking essential but companies say it pays well and offers great benefits. ATA reports the median pay is around $55,000 plus health and retirement benefits.