We’re in the midst of a pandemic. Major industries have come to a standstill. The rules of supply and demand are in a strange flux. Nobody really knows what next month⏤or next week, or tomorrow⏤will bring for the world, for the nation, for our communities, or for the transportation industry.
Oh, and we might have an alarming driver shortage.
Just another busy day at the office? No. Separately and collectively, all of these issues create cause for concern.
We don’t know what tomorrow will look like. One day, the coronavirus pandemic will end, though not without taking a toll. We’ve quickly seen how it’s disrupted nearly every aspect of what we thought of as “normal.” Lives lost. Hospitals overwhelmed. Skyrocketing unemployment.
Different states⏤and different communities within those states⏤have separate rules for reopening their economies. Maybe rightly so, given that the effects of the coronavirus vary sometimes broadly from region to region. For consumers, third-party logistics, and the transportation industry, a disorder of change affects consumption, delivery times, and routes.
Adding to the mix is that projected driver shortage. The American Trucking Associations released a report⏤in early March, its study concluding well before the nation’s economy took a nosedive⏤showing the gap between demand and availability. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said:
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve watched the shortage rise and fall with economic trends, but it ballooned last year to the highest level we’ve seen to date. The combination of a surging freight economy and carriers’ need for qualified drivers could severely disrupt the supply chain. The increase in the driver shortage should be a warning to carriers, shippers and policymakers because if conditions don’t change substantively, our industry could be short just over 100,000 drivers in five years and 160,000 drivers in 2028.”
The report concludes with an estimate that we’ll need to hire an average of 110,000 new drivers over the next ten years, to replace those drivers who are retiring…and to keep pace with what everyone hopes will be a strong economic growth.
As Deepak Chopra said, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.”