American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello said the driver shortage has eased slightly, but remains near its all-time high.
“Based on our estimates, the trucking industry is short roughly 78,000 drivers,” Costello said. “That’s down slightly from 2021’s record of more than 81,000 – but still extremely high historically.”
ATA calculates the shortage estimates by determining the difference between the number of drivers currently in the market and the optimal number of drivers based on freight demand.
“The good news is rising pay and other factors have helped the industry attract new drivers” he said.
“However, that influx is still not enough to make a substantive difference in the shortage – particularly in the long-haul, for-hire truckload sector, the part of the industry most acutely impacted by the shortage.”
Based on current driver demographic trends, as well as projected growth in freight demand, the shortage could swell to more than 160,000 over the next decade.
To keep up with demand, the industry must hire nearly 1.2 million new drivers over the next decade to replace those leaving trucking either through retirement or for other reasons.
There are a number of causes of the shortage, which means there is no single solution. However, the shortage is having an impact on driver pay, pushing it up significantly.
The shortage is not a phenomena unique to the United States – Canada, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Mexico and China have all reported shortages of drivers in the past year.