Ms. Inglish is a successful Employment & Training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.
The driver shortage continues to be the industry’s #1 concern.
— Hub International Limited, December 2019
Truckers in High Demand Through 2028
The number of truck drivers in 2018 was 1,958,800 according to the BLS, and 3,500,000 throughout 2019. Employees involved in all aspects of the trucking industry numberes 8,000,000 at the end of 2019. The forecasted job outlook for truck drivers for the decade 2018-2028 is an increase of 5% by 2028.
Stories about a persistent driver shortage—and its potential effects on the larger economy—have also appeared periodically in major media outlets, most recently in 2018.
— BLS, March 2019
The American Trucking Associations group has reported a truck driver shortage since 1995, with nearly a million job openings in the late 2010s. Between 1995 and 2017, the annual turnover rate at large long-haul freight carriers averaged 94% and at small long-haul carriers, 79%.
Drivers often quit because they can legally and often do work 60 hours per seven-day work week and because of 3,000 - 5,000 trucker deaths related to accidents annually.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that rise in wages usually brings more drivers to the job, eliminating shortages short term. BLS also specifically reported a shortage of 60,000 drivers along with nearly a million job in mid-2019.
As of September 2016, the trucking industry employed around 1.5 million people, and 70 percent of cargo in the US is moved by trucks, with total freight tonnage predicted to grow 35% over the next ten years.
— Singularity Hub, 10/20/2016
Impact of the 2020 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic of Q1 and Q2 2020 resulted in an increasing nmber of driving jobs listed across America, but a higher percentage of jobs in local delivery as Amazon, grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and other companies began delivering goods - often free of shipping charges - in order to build business or even stay in business.
Long-haul drivers and local delivery driveres went into higher demand for the medical supply and equipment industry as well.
Increasing Need for Freight Tranportation
Looking at employment trends and daily job openings, I see an increase in driving jobs posted from 2012 through 2020. Many positions are for CDL licensed truck drivers and long-haul owner-operators.
This business expansion includes more goods like agricultural products and livestock after recovery from a decline during the first quarter of 2020, medical equipment and supplies, scrap metal, trash, oil and water shipments in the Oil & Gas Industry, computer parts, auto parts, aerospace parts and other items.
Trucking routes cover all parts of the United States in all terrain, even along the winter ice roads in the far northwestern states that extend into Canada.
Top 15 Carriers in 2019 by Revenues
- FedEx Freight: 1,000 jobs advertised mid-June 2020
- Old Dominion Freight Line: 100 job openings 6/20
- XPO Logistics: 600 openings 6/20
- YRC Freight: 300 openings 6/20
- Estes Express Lines: 450 openings 6/20
- UPS Freight: 4,100 job openings 6/20
- ABF Freight System
- R+L Carriers
- Saia Motor Freight Line
- Southeastern Freight Lines
- Averitt Express
- Central Transport International
- Forward Air
- Dayton Freight Lines
Data from Logistics Management, June 2019.
What Metro Areas Have the Most Truck Drivers in 2019?
- New York-Jersey City-White Plains
- Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land
- Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell
What States Have the Most Truck Drivers?
|State||Annual Average Number of Truckers|
Goods That Need More Trucks: Aerospace and Oil Products
Aerospace and aeronautical parts, including rocketry, are also transported in increasing numbers from states that include California, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and Eastern Seaboard States. These parts, along with entire aircraft, are also going to our partner nations in projects important to space exploration and national defense.
For instance, NASA selected space taxi manufacturers in 2014 as well as a new craft to replace the US Space Shuttle in the Orion vehicle that can carry five to seven people. At the same time, the US partnered with Japan to create a mutual air force with which to patrol near-earth and interstellar skies.
NASA also partners with the Canadian space agency and the best human example of that is Astronaut Chris Hadfield's career. America's private and public space programs are working with other countries and have been doing so for many years. This creates a lot of parts to be shipped by truck and by aircraft.
Oil and Gas Transport
Considering the blockades on certain oil pipeline construction in the U.S., the trucking industry will likely continue to increase with the Trump Administration's plans to transport oil and oil-containing tar sands from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico at Galveston and other port cities.
Alberta tar sands need toxic, corrosive chemicals to make the material flow through metal pipelines, endangering the water supply of the lands it passes through when the pipes deteriorate, which is a certainty. Cleaning and replacing tanker truck tanks is less labor intensive and time consuming than is repairing the transport pipelines. Trucks are already in use to transport oil and increasing the number of trucks and hauls is not as difficult as building a new pipeline and then repairing it often.
Advertised Truck Driving Jobs
Major Hiring Companies:
- Swift Transportation Co.
- Swift Transportation (another division)
- US Xpress
- CRST Malone
- Knight Refrigerated Trucking
- Melton Truck Lines, Inc.
- Swift Transportation (third division)
- CRST Specialized Transportation
- USA Truck
- Roehl Transport
- Western Express
Most of the job listings I am seeing begin at $50,000 annually, even for first-year drivers.
Long-haul truck drivers need to have a Class A CDL license, which is a Commercial Driver's License and many shorter haul drivers need one as well.
The best way to obtain the license is to take a short training class that awards the license through local motor vehicle licensing agencies at the end of the course. The companies that offer these classes also often maintain a job placement service for graduates. One company in Central Ohio even helped to provide housing for the two-three weeks of their course. See the Truck Driving School Guide for suggestions.
These training opportunities that you might not hear about through the usual means, so when you see an ad in the employment newspapers you can find in boxes on street corners and in local stores, call the numbers in the ads and ask about their training and amenities. Also, check out trucking/freight companies and training schools on line.
Drivers can obtain a number of additional certifications for driving different types of vehicles and these certifications are called endorsements. Ask your training instructor or the local department of motor vehicles about them.
For Owner Operators: Load Boards Advertise Work
- Internet Truckstop® Load Board - Find Freight Fast!
- Truck Loads - DAT
Find loads and trucks fast with full access to the trusted DAT Network. Freight matching designed for shippers, brokers and carriers.
Job Tenure and Career
Some people joined the armed forces when jobs are scare, but other people become truck drivers. Driving is a good choice, since incomes in that industry are increasing.
Truck driving declined in the 1980s and 1990s after several nationwide incidents in which drivers were injured by vandals who through concrete blocks off bridges and into their windshields. Insurance costs increased.
Metal mesh fencing was installed along bridges that crossed highways in which truckers delivered their goods, adding additional costs. The industry fluctuated during the next decade and numbers of driving jobs began to increase in the mid-2000s. In the mid-2010s, truck driving has surpassed the former Number One High Demand Job, which as Physical Therapist.
Truck driving can be demanding and tiring work, but fewer back injuries from inadequate driver's seats are seen today since cushioned and ergonomically designed seating is more often provided. Drivers of trucks and buses like Greyhound must keep logs of hours and miles on the road to avoid driving too many hours without rest and these logs are checked periodically. Rest breaks are important.
Spending a week at a time away from home on long-haul routes can place inordinate demands on family life as well.
For those that can maintain the pace of truck driving, it is lucrative and long-term employment. Drivers sometimes purchase trucks to form a fleet and start their own successful trucking companies.
Trucks In History
- Free CDL Practice Test: Our free CDL practice test will give you a great general idea of what to expect on your general knowledge segment of your CDL test.
- HubInternationalLimited.com. Transportation Industry Outlook 2020: Pressure on Profit Margins as the Driver Shortage Continues and Insurance Premiums Increase. December 2019.
- TruckStopGuide.com: The Number One website to search for truck stops and truck stop services and amenities.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Is the U.S. labor market for truck drivers broken? March 2019.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Patty Inglish MS
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 19, 2014:
Makes sense to me!
FlourishAnyway from USA on December 19, 2014:
I knew someone with a Ph.D. who couldn't wait to retire (at 55) so he could go be a truck driver and see the country. He was tired of sitting behind the desk, crunching numbers, and putting on the "professor" hat.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 19, 2014:
@mckbirdbks - Greetings! I have actually thought of driving a truck a few times, in order to see more of the country. Unfortunately, one must stay on schedule and I think many drivers pass through interesting places without time to stop and look around.
I am looking forward to your next stories, by the way.
mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 18, 2014:
Hello Patty. You always have interesting things to say. Now, me, I may be past the days that I thought I could drive a big rig. Emphasis on thought (I never did.) This is a huge public service annoucement, as there are many people that need work and my understanding is truck drivers make decent money.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 17, 2014:
I see stay-awake remedies in truck stops, but I wonder how many truckers use them; time on the road is more closely monitored these days for truckers and long-haul bus drivers -- On a Greyhound bus a few years ago, the driver had only gone about 120 miles for the day, but did not fill out his log indicating he had not worked more than, I think, 10 hours at once and the stop manager pulled him over and called the company. Passengers waited several hours for another bus to arrive with a fresh driver.
I saw truck drivers in treatment with back problems in the 1990s - compression fractures of the vertebrae; so, I hope driving companies are using the correct seats now.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 17, 2014:
I have known several people to go into truck driving. It is very hard work and a couple of women I know of have bad backs although I don't know if it is related to the truck driving but probably the lifting I would imagine. I had an uncle messed himself up good taking meds to stay awake they said and yet another uncle who was a life drivier with no problems I am aware of but he drove locally so maybe it is all those miles and hours that make it a bad thing.
Work is work though and for those who can take it; there is good money in it.