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Trucking Is How We Get Stuff

(March 02, 2006)  There is or isn't a labor shortage. The perspective inevitably depends on whose ox is getting gored. Obviously, labor shortages are profitable for some businesses and unafforadable for others. That's where the perspective changes. The following snippets suggest the range of perspectives on what should be a factual situation:

 Trucking is vital to the U.S. economy. If you have it, a truck brought it. The other aspect of this statement is that although the American public is generally not engaged in highway safety issues they are totally engaged in truck safety issues. Most Americans think there are too many trucks on the highways and that they are not safe. People perceive it to be true, although I'm not sure it  s true. Our challenge is to provide a safe and efficient system for freight transport.

What are some of the reasons given for the shortage of truck drivers? - Low pay/Long hours. Most drivers are paid by the mile not by the hour and work in excess of 3000 hours per year (50% more than most Americans) for between $35,000 to $40,000.- No overtime pay, unless part of a union contract. Truck Drivers are exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act; the only large group of U.S. workers not covered by most labor laws.- Quality of life issues: Stress to produce more from management, the job held in low esteem by the public, dealing with disrespectful shipping and receiving personnel. Pressures from the family to be at home, to have more regular working hours. (Transportation Research Board Session 359: Trucking Productivity,Part 2: Impact of Driver Shortages)

The long-haul, heavy-duty truck transportation industry in the United States is experiencing a national shortage of 20,000 truck drivers, the American Trucking Associations reported today in its newly released U.S. Truck Driver Shortage: Analysis and Forecasts.

The Forecast, a report on the present and future of the long-haul truck driver pool, predicts the shortage of long-haul truck drivers will increase to 111,000 by 2014 if current demographic trends stay their course and if the overall labor force continues to grow at a slower pace.

"The driver market is the tightest it has been in 20 years," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. "It's a major limitation to the amount of freight that motor carriers can haul. It's critical that we find ways to tap a new labor pool, increase wages and recruit new people into the industry that keeps our national economy moving."

Of the 3.4 million truck drivers on the road, 1.3 million are long-haul truckers, the driver segment most severely impacted by the shortage. Although the current driver shortage is set at 20,000 drivers, it seems larger to the industry because of a high degree of driver "churning," or moving from carrier to carrier. Large truckload carriers reported an average annual turnover of 121% last year.  (TheAutoChannel)

A conspicuous shortage of truck drivers is creating a Catch-22 of sorts for the trucking industry, according to recent comments by carrier executives. On the one hand, a lack of drivers is restricting the ability of trucking companies to expand and meet current freight volumes. Yet that same lack of drivers results in tight capacity, which is allowing fleets in many cases to get higher rates from customers and reject unprofitable business.

"Our results for the quarter were assisted by a favorable relationship between freight demand and truckload capacity," said Steve Russell, chairman & CEO of Indianapolis-based truckload carrier Celadon Group.

"We believe capacity growth in our industry continues to be constrained by a shortage of qualified drivers," he continued. "Assuming a continuation of the current freight environment, where growth in freight demand has exceeded increases in truckload capacity, we believe there will be opportunities to continue to raise freight rates faster than cost increases. Consequently, we continue to be confident in our ability to move to a 90% operating ratio or better."

"A solid U.S. economy and a favorable relationship between shipping demand and truckload capacity contributed to a 5.9% increase in our average revenue per loaded mile," noted Kevin Knight, chairman & CEO of Phoenix-based Knight Transportation. (Fleet Owner)

In other words, the industry itself is experiencing a shortage while the companies that compose the industry have varying experiences. Part of  the problem associated with staffing trends is that they can be solved in a number of ways. More people is not always the right answer.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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         © 2013 interbiznet.
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         Materials written
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