A newly published report from the U.S. Department of Labor says that the controversial ‘truck driver shortage’ does not exist.
For well over a decade, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has argued that the trucking industry is suffering from a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers, but the Department of Labor is now refuting those long standing claims in a blockbuster new report.
A monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics entitled “Is the U.S. labor market for truck drivers broken?” looks into the barrage of claims from the mainstream media and the ATA that there is a long-standing shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. labor market:
“The most prominent story about the market for drivers is that told by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), an organization representing firms that are central industry participants. The ATA has been arguing systematically since 2005 that firms hauling freight face a shortage of truck drivers, and discussion within the industry of a shortage actually dates to the late 1980s.1 Stories about a persistent driver shortage—and its potential effects on the larger economy—have also appeared periodically in major media outlets, most recently in 2018.”
The report examined employment data collected by the U.S. government along with truck driver wage and unemployment rates and concluded that in spite of high turnover rates in some sectors of trucking, there is no evidence of an industry-wide driver shortage:
“While we do use ATA data to identify one segment of the trucking labor market (long-distance TL motor freight) that has experienced high and persistent turnover rates for decades, the overall picture is consistent with a market in which labor supply responds to increasing labor demand over time, and a deeper look does not find evidence of a secular shortage.”
In short, the report concluded that there hasn’t ever been a truck driver shortage in the past and there isn’t one now.
In response to claims that the truck driver labor market is “broken”, researchers said that “the labor market for truck drivers works about as well as the labor markets for other blue-collar occupations.”
Researchers also concluded, unsurprisingly, that truckers who are paid higher wages are less likely to exit their jobs. The report confirms what many trucking organizations like the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) and truckers themselves have been arguing for years — that increasing driver wages is the best way to attract and retain truck drivers.