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Supply Chain News: There is a Real Long Haul Driver Shortage, New Report Finds, with Advice for Carriers and Shippers

 

Coyote Logistics and Emsi Say Issue not Big in Drivers for Local Deliveries

March 16, 2021
 

The US has a truck driver shortage of almost crisis levels, right?

Many supply chain and logistics managers likely think so, in part based on a steady drum beat on the issue from the American Trucking Associations.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

 

FPerhaps self-driving trucks, especially for those long haul routes, perhaps may someday offer the solution, but it does not seem likely any time soon.

What do you say?

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Others have remained skeptical. In 2019, Barron's argued that the supposed trucking shortage was largely overblown, citing a relatively stable producer price index as evidence.

In 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics also weighed in, finding high rates of occupational attachment among truck drivers that haul freight and suggesting that, over time, the labor market would respond to price signals in a roughly normal and predictable way. In other words, there was nothing special about the truck driver market. (See US Labor Department Report Challenges Beliefs Relative to a Truck Driver Shortage."

Now, 3PL Coyote Logistics and partner analytics firm Emsi have released a new research report that takes a data-driven view of the current landscape.

The summary conclusion: there does seem to be systemic shortage of long haul drivers, but the situation is much better in the LTL and local delivery driver occupations.

The report notes for heavy duty truck driver, it takes about nine job postings for each new hire. That includes LTL and local heavy duty trucking. The ratio is likely even higher jut for long haul drivers.

The ratio falls to two to one for light truck driver spots, and just one to one for blue collar manufacturing jobs.

"These numbers track with what we're seeing on the ground: not only is there little desire to enter the field of trucking, but drivers vastly prefer to go into short-haul, light truck driving than long-haul freight," the report notes.

What's more, with an aging driver populations, the workforce composition suggests that young workers are not being recruited at rates that will replace current drivers as they exit the market due to age or disability, according to the report.

So that's the current landscape. Perhaps self-driving trucks, especially for those long haul routes, may someday offer the solution, but that does not seem likely any time soon.


(See More Below)

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The report offers advice to carriers and private fleet managers to improve their ability to attract and retain drivers.

Those include:

Follow truckload market forecasts and pivot your strategy accordingly: Carriers and shippers need to stay on top of driver and freight volume numbers, and proactively plan strategies.

Shippers need to find the right balance of spot to contracted freight that sets them up for the most success in the projected market environment. Carriers should raise wages and advertise those higher wages in job postings, if they are able to – a big "if."

Develop a long-term business plan: If you're a shipper, that means understanding the market dynamics and apply an "always on" Shipper of Choice strategy by taking care of your primary carrier network.

That involves tracking carrier performance, applying best practices in relationship management and not nickel-and-diming your best carriers.

Similarly, carriers should practice a "Carrier of Choice" or preferred carrier strategy to make their services more appealing to shippers. This means investing in technology for greater tracking visibility and seeking dedicated or contracted opportunities on preferred lanes to offer more stability to both your business and your drivers.

Reduce barriers to entry and conduct more on the job training: At the very least, the report says, carriers and private fleets should remove experience and education requirements from their job postings. Ideally, firms would assist new recruits in getting a Class A/B CDL license, and advertise their willingness to do so. Removing barriers to entry may be especially useful in attracting younger workers, the report adds.

Invest in worker safety and quality of life: The report says ensuring that drivers have adequate breaks, safe accommodations, manageable and predictable schedules, paid time off, healthcare, and other perks can help attract fresh candidates while also making these positions more highly desirable.

It also says that for long haul drivers companies should offer a monthly minimum of consecutive days at home.

Offer and communicate pathways to growth: The report notes it may be possible to recruit young talent if there is a clearly marked and steady progression towards career development, the work/life balance they desire and even higher wages. The clearer you communicate your benefits and development plans, the more you position the industry as a whole as a competitive and desirable one to start or grow your career in.

The report concludes by stating that "With bold vision and strategic changes, the industry could lie at a point of enormous opportunity. By investing in the workforce, understanding the truckload market dynamics, and setting long-term strategy, firms cannot only meet their own current labor and capacity needs, but secure the next generation of supply chain workforce to meet America's growing needs."

SCDigest says: The BLS analysis cited above made a simple point that whatever driver shortage exists, it could be simply addressed by significantly increasing driver pay. While some carriers and private fleets have done that to an extent, it is obviously not been enough to attract in enough new long haul drivers, as we wait for the robot trucks to arrive someday.


Any reaction to this driver analysis? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


Name

Title, Company
Posted on: Mar, 21 2021
If there are no drivers, there are no companies that appreciate drivers. There are no drivers if a company does not care about your home time, then they lose drivers. The company should share profits with the driver. Money makes the world go round. I can't go around the world with no money, that's why I left the industry. It's real simple - take care of your drivers and make your drivers look successful and you will attract more drivers, even younger drivers. Younger drivers and young people are smart. They like money too, but if it doesn't add up why should they join an industry that doesn't pay well.

Scott

Grenerth, Million plus miles of accident-free trucking, industry consultant
Posted on: Mar, 23 2021
There are many completely valid points within this article, but it needs some clarity on one key overall point, driver churn.

You reference the “nickel and diming” that can occur between a shipper and carrier. This also occurs, and is far more relevant to your topic, between carrier and trucker. As someone who drove over a million accident-free miles in my career with 4 carriers over that time, I can assure you that one reason truckers leave the industry all together, or leave for another carrier so frequently is that nickel and diming. When shippers and receivers do not value your time, leading to horrible amounts of detention at docks, the driver *must* be compensated for that detention. It is not their fault that a company suddenly acts surprised that a 53 foot long container just magically appeared at their dock, when they ordered it and specified the time. If this time spent unduly detained was valued just as much as the employees inside the offices and working the docks, that would *dramatically* change the equation of drivers leaving carriers, or simply quitting trucking. As an extra bonus, it would also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter emissions due to trucks needlessly idling.

This is one of the easiest fixes imaginable, value the time of the trucker. There’s a reason the LTL sector of trucking does not have the same issues as the long-haul over-the-road segment. The truckers time is valued, because they are paid for all time that is wasted by shippers and receivers. This is a fix that is long overdue!

 
 
 
 
 

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