US trucking industry is short by a record 80,000 drivers amid the supply-chain crisis, association head says

Trucker truck driver

The US has a shortage of around 80,000 truck drivers, Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), told CNN Tuesday.

This is a record high, and an increase of roughly 30% from before the pandemic, Spear said.

Like other workers across the US, truckers are quitting their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions. The industry has also struggled to hire new staff due to its long hours and prolonged periods away from home.

This has caused havoc in the US supply chain. Coupled with shipping problems and a surge in demand for goods, the lack of truck drivers is contributing to shortages, delays, and soaring prices, affecting products from freezers and computer chips to chicken wings and Coca-Cola.

Ports are also becoming backlogged because there aren’t enough truckers to move the cargo.

The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are both moving towards 24/7 operations, aimed at easing the supply-chain chaos, but Spear warned that this wouldn’t completely solve the problems.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a port in LA or Long Beach, or the last mile of delivery from a train to a warehouse in Wichita,” he told CNN. “You’re going to have to have a driver and a truck move that freight.”

The ATA said that if nothing is done to address the trucker shortage, the industry could be down by 160,000 drivers by 2030, CNN reported.

Across the US, around 3.6 million truck drivers were employed in 2019, per data from the ATA. Almost two-thirds of the country’s total freight tonnage is transported by truck, it added.

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