• Women could be the key to solving truck driver shortage

    Updated:

    Ever wonder how all of those groceries and clothes get on the shelves at your favorite stores?

    In many cases, the answer is trucks.

    In fact, trucks hauled over 70 percent of all freight in the U.S. last year.

    The only problem? The trucking industry currently has a severe shortage of qualified drivers.

    For Dan England, former president of the American Trucking Association, the labor crunch isn't just an industry problem -- it's personal as he looks to find drivers for his family's fourth-generation trucking company.


    TRENDING NOW:


    The nation's truck driver shortage is so severe it caught the attention of the White House.
     
    When introducing himself to President Donald Trump in July, England told him: "I'm representing the American Trucking Association and we're committing to 50,000 opportunities over the next five years."

    To which the president replied: "Wow. That's big stuff."
     
    Experts say the industry could use an additional 51,000 long-haul freight drivers as the shortage affects industries from retail to construction. 
     
    "We have just about 6,500 drivers [at his company, C.R. England] and, gosh, if we had 500 more right now, we'd be very grateful," said England. 

    Long hours, federal age restrictions and congested roads make finding new recruits difficult. The driver population is aging and lacks diversity -- only 6 percent are women, according to the ATA.
     
    That means drivers like Johnshell Jenkins are a rarity. The 21-year-old just received her commercial driver's license and has been hired by C.R. England.
     
    "I told them I can do it. Just because it's 'a man's job,' I can do the same thing as a man," said Jenkins.
     
    To attract workers in a tight market, companies are offering signing bonuses in the thousands, flexible schedules so drivers can spend more time with family, new trucks and loan repayments for training. 

    "The demand for drivers is so strong, and the supply is limited, that means pay continues to go up," said Bob Costello, the chief economist for the ATA.
     
    And while the industry grapples with the driver shortage, a brewing trade war also stands to negatively affect the sector. 

    The ATA says NAFTA trade generates over $6.5 billion for U.S. trucking companies alone and directly employs 31,000 American drivers.

    Any interruption in that relationship could harm both companies and the drivers who work for them.
     



    Next Up: