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Truck Driver Jobs Increase in America to Over 900,000 Openings

Ms. Inglish is a successful employment & training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.

Heavy transport truck

Heavy transport truck

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 numbered 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.

The driver shortage continues to be the industry’s #1 concern.

— Hub International Limited, December 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 a 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 jobs in mid-2019.

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

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In Q1 and Q2 of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an increasing number 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 drivers went into higher demand for the medical supply and equipment industry as well.

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

Increasing Need for Freight Tranportation

Looking at employment trends and daily job openings, I saw an increase in driving jobs posted from 2012 through 2020. Many positions were for CDL licensed truck drivers and long-haul owner-operators.

This business expansion included 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 and 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.

What States Have the Most Truck Drivers?

Data from Fremont Contract Carriers, June 2020

StateAnnual Average Number of Truckers

Texas

170,000

California

130,000

Pennsylvania

80,000

Florida

77,500

Ohio

71,000

Truck and semi-trailers

Truck and semi-trailers

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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 the 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.

Tank truck or tanker

Tank truck or tanker

Hauling a wind turbine blade

Hauling a wind turbine blade

Trucking Licenses

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 to 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 online.

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

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 the number of driving jobs began to increase in the mid-2000s. In the mid-2010s, truck driving surpassed the former number one high-demand job, physical therapist.

Health Hazards

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.

Sources

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

Comments

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.

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