The current driver shortage in the US is sure to disrupt the Holiday shopping season, and there are no indicators that it will end any time soon.
What’s in this article:
The causes of the problem
What measures are the administrations taking?
How is the private sector reacting?
Why Is There A Driver Shortage?
The global supply chain continues to suffer from delays and overload, translating into high costs for freight movement across all modalities.
Sustained consumer demand has led to overcrowding at origin and destination ports, with a lack of containers and carriers worsening freight bottlenecks. This chaos has resulted in the scarcity of parts and raw materials, threatening industries such as automotive, technology, and furniture manufacturing, among others.
The truck driver shortage has been a long-standing problem for the trucking industry in the US, with experts stating that the shortage has worsened, with the industry needing roughly 80,000 drivers in 2021. Labor shortage, the congestion of the principal North American ports, the lack of storage space, and the complexities caused by the pandemic in the global supply chain will cause delays and even shortages during the holiday shopping season.
The causes of this lack of drivers are varied and complex, but among them are undoubtedly the lack of generational change, the low wages due to the narrow margin with which the trucking companies work, and the very long working hours. At roughly 50 years, the median age of drivers in the US is of concern, considering the younger generation does not seem interested in trucking. Finding a solution to this problem requires a profound rethinking of the situation by the sector.
The Government Step In
This perfect storm is such a worrying problem that governments worldwide and the private sector are already looking for solutions. In the case of the US, the Biden administration has already created the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force led by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture to address the problem.
The lack of drivers who can move goods between the ports of arrival and the final consumers will continue to aggravate this crisis, which is already a serious cause for concern.
One of the first measures put in place by the Biden administration to alleviate the foreseeable crisis is to implement night shifts—or rather, operate warehouses 24 hours a day. The labor shortage, however, continues to be an obstacle to the success of these measures. Especially the lack of drivers who can move goods between the ports of arrival and the final consumers will continue to aggravate this crisis, which is already a serious cause for concern.
What The Private Sector Is Doing
Companies such as Walmart, UPS, FedEx, or Samsung have launched plans to extend their operations on a 24/7 basis, thus trying to speed up the movement of goods. However, voices in the private sector continue to say that these measures will have a minimal impact if there is still a shortage of drivers since the bottom of the problem is that a significant percentage of the workforce is missing. The paralyzed cargo in ports or warehouses throughout the country will not be distributed if more workers are not incorporated into the trucking industry.
Trucking companies, for their part, are trying to solve the crisis in several different ways: by offering better salaries, higher variable bonuses, more benefits, fewer hours, and more stable routes. They also demand that the authorities simplify and make it easier to access professional trucking licenses to attract younger personnel to this sector. Smaller companies have begun to exert significant pressure for visas to be granted more quickly to foreign drivers who have the experience and qualifications necessary to handle these heavier vehicles.
Without having a clear short-term solution, the best advice is to plan your purchases and make them as far in advance as possible.
For the end consumer, the main consequence of this situation will be twofold—on the one hand, a delay in all deliveries and, on the other, an increase in shipping costs as every link in the supply chain will inevitably pass on its cost markup. Without having a clear short-term solution, the best advice is to plan your purchases and make them as far in advance as possible.