America’s truckers are getting older. The country will need 898,000 new drivers in the next decade to replace them.
That’s one result of a study from the American Trucking Associations. Another result: The industry is lagging far behind on that replacement rate.
To keep up, the industry requires 50,000 new drivers by the end of the year. Yahoo! Finance reports:
“Over the next decade, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 898,000 new drivers, or an average of nearly 90,000 per year. Replacing retiring truck drivers will be by far the largest factor, accounting for nearly half of new driver hires (49%),” according to Bob Costello, chief economist of ATA.
With the relatively high average age of existing truck drivers — 49 — the trucking industry needs to figure out how to attract new ones.
To do that, says Brian Fielkow, the industry’s going to have to pay better:
The best way to lure in workers is, of course, paying a competitive wage. Fielkow employs 125 full-time drivers and says the average driver makes $60,000 a year, plus benefits. That’s significantly more than the industry’s median pay of $41,340.
“Compensation is critical. We have to be competitive because we’re vying for talent not only in this industry, but in industries like construction and energy,” he said. “We’re building a driver-centric company.”
Other companies are trying to boost compensation, with some offering sign-on bonuses to lure in drivers, according to the ATA. In addition to the pay, Jetco has also created a driver committee that helps make decisions along with the executives.
“Having a driver committee that’s truly involved in the governance of the company makes sure that our drivers’ voices are heard and we respond to their concerns,” he said.
Another hope for attracting more youthful truckers is technology, Fielkow says. Though some see the potential for self-driving trucks to replace the need for drivers. In fact, according to ATA:
“The more sophisticated technology may attract younger individuals to truck driving. One could envision an environment when the longer, line-haul portion of truck freight movements are completed by autonomous trucks and local pickup and delivery routes are completed by drivers,” the ATA report noted.