Driver shortage squeezing trucking industry


A national report says the trucking industry is short about 30,000 drivers, and the scarcity will only get worse in coming years. Courtesy Thinkstock

As the economy continues to recover from the Great Recession, some careers viewed as blue collar are seeing a drop in numbers.

One of those is the trucking industry. There is a shortage of truck drivers across the industry, said Donna Randall, director of business development for Classic Transportation & Warehousing.

According to a recent “state of logistics” report, the industry is short 30,000 drivers nationwide and could see even more openings in the coming years as an aging work force heads toward retirement.

A glance at almost any job-posting board shows plenty of openings because drivers are hard to come by right now.

“There’s a negative stereotype against truck drivers,” she said. “They aren’t treated very nice because it’s not viewed as a very glamorous position.”

As the economy improved, Randall said, drivers began to take positions within offices that allowed them to get off the road and be home every night. Many regional companies, such as Classic, offer positions that are day-shipping only, which means drivers are home every night, anyway.

There are plenty of training opportunities in the area for those who wish to pursue a career in truck driving, including an industry-specific program at Baker College in Muskegon.

Smaller companies such as Classic require a certain amount of time behind the wheel before they will hire a driver. Randall said Classic looks for two to three years of experience but will occasionally make exceptions.

The average salary of a commercial driver is about $38,000. However, trucking companies with immediate needs are offering big incentives to get people to sign up.

“Potential drivers are hard to come by,” Randall said. “But pay isn’t bad, and we pay a little different. But a lot of companies are offering referral deals and signing bonuses.”

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