Insights & News

Focusing on the Lack of Truck Drivers Won’t Make your Rates Cheaper. Here’s What Will.

Truck used for shipping in a desert area

Posted On March 30, 2018

According to job search site Indeed, the average truck driver in the United States makes $66,573 annually. Drivers for private fleets (like Walmart) can start with a salary as high as $73,000 per year. For some perspective, the average elementary school teacher makes around $55,000, with many starting as low as $36,000. The average salary for a marketing manager is $62,650. Of course, both elementary school teacher and marketing manager positions usually require a college degree—and the debt load that comes with it.

Yet there isn’t a nationwide shortage of elementary school teachers and marketing managers.

However, there is a nationwide shortage of truck drivers, and that shortage is impacting your bottom line. Research from investment banking and advisory firm Stifel’s logistics and transportation practice argues that recent rate increases can largely be attributed to the ongoing lack of truck drivers.

Stifel’s report doesn’t beat around the bush, stating that the United States hasn’t “made a new truck driver since 1985.” The report goes on to say that the firm’s researchers “haven’t met one millennial who has thought about truck driving for a career.” There are reasons for that. Over the last several decades, the perceived necessity of a four-year degree has been emphasized by parents, the educational system, and even the media. Driving a truck for a living has also been unfairly stigmatized as a career option for only the unintelligent and unmotivated.

But even though it receives a relatively large amount of coverage in both the transportation industry and popular media, the reasons for the shortage of truck drivers shouldn’t really matter to shippers.

Yes, a degree in art history is almost always less lucrative than a career as a trucker.

Yes, it is unfortunate that honest, hard work is viewed as a lesser way to make a living.

None of that really matters.

According to the report from Stifel (and a basic understanding of Economics 101), trucking jobs are likely to continue to remain unfilled until salaries for truck drivers become even higher. Given the already thin margins in trucking, that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

In other words, right now rates are increasing due to a shortage in capacity. The only way to increase capacity is to increase salaries, and hopefully attract more truckers—but those increases will also lead to higher rates. Either way, the price of transporting your goods via truck is going to get more expensive.

The solution?

Taking a strategic approach to your supply chain, logistics, and transportation management program. Giving your shipping department the tools to better manage a shipment, including the ability to compare different carriers, will help minimize the impact of rate increases on your bottom line.

Flat World Supply Chain and the Flat World family of companies give you the tools to do that. From technology-enabled transportation management to freight forwarding and custom crating, our team of logistics professionals will help make your supply chain as efficient and cost effective as possible.

It’s okay to wish the state of the trucking industry was different.

However, wishing doesn’t solve anything.

Instead, try partnering with an award-winning family of companies that uses the industry’s best transportation management system (TMS).