The domestic trucking industry was hit hard by our economic downturn – is there now a light at the end of the tunnel?
The trucking industry is fundamentally tied to the economy – and not just the domestic economy. This is an industry that ebbs and flows based on the transportation needs of the world’s consumer. If foreign consumption of US-based products begins to wane, less truckers are needed to move these goods to shipping ports across the nation. If domestic demand falls for foreign-sourced goods, we will certainly see less product arriving at our shores – and a reduced demand for transportation services. This phenomenon is apparent for any trucking company or owner-operator who makes a living moving goods from port to hub, or from distribution center to retailer.
As a positive indicator of the global economy, as well as the condition of our domestic markets, the domestic trucking industry saw a gain of 1,000 jobs in September of this year. While the number of trucking jobs has seen a steady incline over the past couple of years, we are still almost 64,000 jobs under the peak period of trucking employment – January 2007. Though 1,000 new trucking jobs may not seem like a significant amount when you consider the size of the trucking industry, keep in mind that total trucking employment is up over 150,000 jobs since the bottom (March 2010). This is positive news that the overall economy is recovering and truckers are again moving a significant amount of goods.
Critics say that the uptick in jobs isn’t enough
Some critics have voiced their opinion that the reporting methods used to determine these additions to the trucking industry don’t paint an accurate picture. They feel that many of those who are hired today are placed in trucking school, given an assignment, and are left to quickly burn out on the job. This has led to a high turnover rate among newer truckers – a rate that can quickly erode any new additions to the trucking industry. These higher turnover rates may be a function of truckers who have decided to change careers and enter a new field without really weighing the pros and cons of the trucker lifestyle. It is a lifestyle – not a job, as voiced by many in the trucking field.
No matter which side of the argument you are on, it is important to understand that there is a significant demand for truckers today. In the early months of 2010, it seemed like the industry was grinding to a total halt, but prospective drivers today will find that the trucking industry has room for more drivers and support personnel. Over the past twelve months the trucking industry has added 28,000 additional jobs – certainly a positive indicator that the economy is beginning to recover and the trucking industry is enjoying the additional opportunities.