When demand is high but supply is low, what happens? In the case of truck drivers, salaries rise. Because there’s a shortage of truck drivers in the U.S., the pay for the average long-haul trucker keeps rising each year. In fact, it hit $57,000 in 2015. It’s a good time to be a truck driver, pay-wise.
Overall, the trucking industry is dealing with growth while many truckers are reaching retirement age, and they’re not being replaced fast enough with capable, younger drivers. As the economy and U.S. dollar strengthens, more and more goods imported from other countries keep arriving into the U.S. via planes, trains and ships. These goods generally end up reaching their final destination thanks to trucks. Truckers currently transport about 69 percent of tonnage of domestic freight, an all-time high.
During the next decade, trucking will be a growth industry as some 90,000 new drivers– per year– will be needed to drive the trucks that deliver freight across the country. Finding qualified drivers who have the proper training and are not in trouble with the law is one of the trucking industry’s biggest challenges.
At this time, about 6 percent of truck drivers are female. That percentage could rise in the coming years, especially if the trucking industry adapts to the needs of all drivers, male and female, young and old, by offering more at-home time. Sign-on bonuses and a steady increase in driver pay would also help attract new workers.
Finally, lowering the interstate driving age from 21 to 18 could help more young people start their truck driving careers earlier. Right now, during those prime years, young people are looking elsewhere for jobs since they’re too young for trucking. If the age was lowered, the trucking industry could catch them before they find another line of work that they end up making their lifetime career.