How Driver Shortages Threaten the Shipping Industry

August 29, 2019 by Constantinos Garoufalidis
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Unemployment levels are flirting with all-time lows. Wages are going up, business confidence is high, it seems like everything in the job market is flowing well!

But there’s one job in particular that’s feeling the threat of obscurity. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), there is a decline in the number of truck drivers in the United States. The ATA estimates the industry as a whole is short anywhere between fifty thousand and sixty thousand drivers for companies to meet optimal performance. And with the current generation of drivers set to retire soon, this could spell trouble for the shipping industry.

What’s caused the lack of interest in this all-American industry we’ve relied on for so long? And how will it impact your supply chain and how you ship?


Where Have All the Drivers Gone?

When you hear about the health threats drivers face, it’s no wonder why there’s a shortage of truck drivers. Driving in a cramped truck cab across the country, being away from friends and family for weeks at a time isn’t really worth it for many nowadays. Even stable job security, a strong salary, benefits and everything in between isn’t enough to find the right people for the job. Carriers are having a tough time recruiting.

With the introduction of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) there are now regulations on drivers and trucks, more specifically, how many hours they can drive before taking a break, how fast they can drive, etc. While this is an initiative at combating the previously mentioned working conditions, drivers are starting to quit as ELDs cut into their hours and income.

The social stereotypes aren’t appealing to the next generation of the job force either. In a changing global job market where seemingly everyone can find a niche in an online platform, become an entrepreneur or e-commerce guru, the expectations of today’s job hunters aren’t fulfilled by what the truck driver position supplies. Frankly, Millennials and the younger generations flat-out are not as interested in carrying the torch of the trucking across America role. They prefer avocado toast and air-conditioned desks.


What This Means for You

A lack of drivers threatens a capacity crunch in the shipping industry. Which makes sense; as things get back on track after a discouraging first half of 2019, a higher demand for shipping means more drivers are needed. If carriers can’t find the drivers, they need in time to meet the demands, it could create a supply chokehold. Limited lanes, higher prices and delayed deliveries. Demand outpaces supply and voilà, you have a shortage!

Although these threats might not be relevant until further down the road, the uncertainty and current state of trucking from an economic labor viewpoint is something to keep in mind.

Maybe the Millennials can get into trucking through autonomous vehicle desk jobs one day!


3PLs Have the Solutions

It can be tough to find the right carrier on the right lane for the best rate if you’re shipping without a third-party partnership. 3PLs use the latest technology to help discover hidden capacity. For example, booking a shipment on a backhaul lane is cheaper, and carriers are looking for loads to avoid empty trucks on return trips.

You can leverage a 3PL’s resources to work for you. They work on behalf of small- and mid-sized businesses to unlock all kinds of hidden options even in a slim capacity market. 3PLs have access to discounted rates saving you money as well as time by fulfilling the capacity requirements of your shipment.


Discover Your Shipping Potential

Freight spend management, expert service along with solutions that are tailored to fit your unique needs are just a few of the benefits of partnering with a 3PL. Don’t let the market dictate how you are going to ship.

FreightCenter can analyze your shipping processes and help you discover where you could be saving money and operating more efficiently.

Talk to one of our experts today at (800) 716-7608.

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