Truck Driver Shortage Squeezes Online Shopping Shipping Boom

50,000 more drivers required to keep up with e-commerce growth

Robert Mangino
May 30, 2018 - 4:41 pm
All Your Trucks in a Row

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – America needs truck drivers – tens of thousands to be exact.

As e-commerce shipments increase, so does the demand for truckers to transport those online shopping deliveries.

There is a shortage of 50,000 truckers according to the American Trucking Association (ATA), often leading to increased shipping costs and delivery delays. The ATA says the U.S. will require 898,000 more drivers over the next 10 years to keep up with delivery demands.

E-commerce giant Amazon just increased its Prime membership by $20, citing increased shipping costs as one reason for the jump.

Dwayne Donaldson is the truck operations manager at the New Castle School of Trades. He told the KDKA Radio News the need is apparent, and growing.

“We deal with quite a few recruiters at our school interested in our students as they graduate. There is no question that there is a need for truck drivers right now,” Donaldson said. “And it’s been creeping up pretty quickly.”

One issue contributing to the need is the large amount of truckers across the country retiring or approaching retirement.

“The age of the average truck driver in the United States right now is in the high 40s – 48, 47-years-old. And as those gentleman and those ladies are retiring, the younger generation isn’t filling those slots,” Donaldson said. “The issues with the lifestyle and the job are part of the equation.”

Although the shortage is bad for online shopping, it’s great for those looking for a job. So why aren’t job-seekers jumping into trucks?

It’s not money keeping new drivers away. Many cite the long hours on the road and time away from home as deterrents from driving trucks.

Donaldson says truck drivers can earn anywhere from $800 to $1800 per week, with driving teams pulling in even more with the ability to log more hours in a single trip. Companies are also offering sign-on bonuses in an attempt to meet demand.  

The cost to make that money is small compared to graduates with bachelor’s degrees. Donaldson says it costs $5,500 to $7,500. The Class A Commercial Driving Course at the New Castle School of Trades trains entry-level drivers for a CDL (commercial driver’s license) in about 7.5 weeks.

Donaldson says the money and time are worth the rewards of a career in an industry with consistent job opportunities.

“When you put that CDL in your pocket, you’ve got a job when you want it for life. You can walk away in this industry and come back after a couple years,” Donaldson said. “We’re wanted. We’re desired.”

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