It is a good time to be a long-haul trucker, and they are in demand.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) in D.C. have released a new report that shows more than 90% of truckload fleets raised pay in 2021, with an average increase of 10.9%. Median wages have risen 18% since 2019.

ATA said the industry is 80,000 jobs short of what is needed, though the number of actual job openings is much higher.

Last year, trucking companies in the United States suffered a record deficit of 80,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations, a trade association. Given that trucks move 72 percent of American freight, a lack of drivers spells substantial disruption.

“Trucking has tens of thousands of openings – behind the wheel, on the shop floor and in the back office – and our men and women in uniform are tremendous candidates that our industry is reaching out to and trying to make the transition from the military easier for,” said ATA Vice President of Workforce Policy Nick Geale.

Geale participated, along with ATA’s Workforce Heroes Truck, in the American Legion’s National Higher Education and Credentialing Summit here as part of Task Force Movement – a national organization dedicated to creating pathways to careers for returning veterans.

“Right now, our industry is short 80,000 drivers – jobs that pay upwards of $70,000 or more per year, giving our returning veterans a middle class lifestyle without the debt and expense of a college degree,” Geale said. “ATA and our partners are working to make it easier for these men and women to translate their military experience to a CDL, cutting red tape in the licensing process and getting these heroes into well-paying careers.”

Age and Gender

One of the largest issues influencing the driver shortage is the demographic of the current workforce, primarily age, and gender. The trucking industry relies heavily on male employees, 45 years of age or older.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old. With an alarming amount of these drivers retiring within the next 10-20 years, we are quickly approaching a dangerous cliff. A cliff that, if fallen off of, will hit the industry hard if new, younger workers aren’t hired into the industry. This has proved to be difficult, though, as the Federal requirement states you must be 21 years old to hold an Interstate Commercial Divers License. This leaves a 3-year post-high school gap, where possible employees become distracted by new employment opportunities.

Another major demographic issue is that the industry is really only tapping into a little over half of the workforce population. Women makeup 47% of the nation’s workforce but only account for 6% of commercial truck drivers. The problem here is changing the stereotype that the trucking industry is man’s world. To better convince women that they are welcome, carriers need to make it clear that women are not only wanted but needed in the truck driver career pool.

The ATA just announced the appointment of Elisabeth Barna, executive vice president of industry affairs, to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Women of Trucking Advisory Board. Mandated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, WOTAB will bring together trucking industry stakeholders to focus on the recruitment, retention, support, and safety of women commercial motor vehicle drivers.

She states “As our industry continues to shed past stereotypes about who can be a professional truck driver, we look forward to the constructive engagement of this board as we work together to remove roadblocks that deter women from considering the rewarding opportunities that trucking has to offer.”

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