Balancing the scales on our entry last week about positive traction on increasing the nation’s number of commercial drivers, the media is increasingly spotlighting how big a challenge we all have with the current situation.
Headline of a New York Times article this week: “The Biggest Kink in America’s Supply Chain: Not Enough Truckers.” Subheader: “Long hours and uncomfortable working conditions are leading to a shortage of truck drivers, which has compounded shipping delays in the United States.”
Estimates have the trucking industry driver shortage currently at 80,000. As more drivers retire, that number could double by 2030. With measures in place to deal with this economic crunch ⏤ including longer hours of operation from commercial driver licensing offices and larger investments in hiring women and people of color ⏤ those initiatives need some time to have a lasting effect. And time is one of the things we also have a shortage of.
What are the cumulative effects? Says Bob Costello, economist for American Trucking Associations, ““Since we last released an estimate of the shortage, there has been tremendous pressure on the driver pool. Increased demand for freight, pandemic-related challenges from early retirements, closed driving schools and DMVs, and other pressures are really pushing up demand for drives and subsequently the shortage.”
Team NATCO feels that ripple in the industry. We tend to be ale to find our established carriers. And yet, we do feel the domino effect: waiting, say, for parts coming from overseas, into the ports, onto trucks and to the warehouse. If those are on a container ship in the Pacific, waiting for a spot at the Port of Los Angeles, well, everyone’s going to wait.
Everything seems to be inflating. The country is feeling it ⏤ at the pumps and the grocery, with parcel delivery and retail sales. New strategies, already in place and soon-to-be introduced, will get us to a place of relatively better stability.