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Focus on a link in a rusty chain November 16, 2021 - BY EagleLogistics LLC

So what’s going on with the supply chain in the country right now? Is it that demand is higher for goods, or that some manufacturers and other distribution channels have slowed production, or that there needs to be some adjustments made to retain and recruit truck drivers? Yes, yes, and yes. Much of that is beyond the purview of our mighty blog, but we can speak to part of the supply chain management that is affected by a shortage of drivers.

First of all, is there a truck driver shortage?

Indeed. The experts figure we have an immediate shortage of about 80,000 truck drivers. In an industry that employs over 6 percent of the country’s workers, 80,000 would not seem like a big deal. However, the reason that number concerns analysts is that the trajectory is ominous. The shortage is up over 30 percent in just two years! This is an unsustainable level of loss and threatens the fragile system in supply chain management. The analysts are now saying that in order to just replace people we know will retire, we need to recruit over a million drivers this decade. That number does not include the changing culture, which will make recruiting tougher, and predictable attrition. The cold facts are these: we have some really tough decisions to make on the national level, and we need to create a better working experience on a company level. (We’ll talk about what Eagle Logistics is doing further down.)

Why is there a shortage?

In some ways the answer is simple - more people either can’t do the job or don’t want to do the job. When people cannot do it, it’s often due to physical limitations, age restrictions, driving records, or drug tests. When they don’t want to drive, it’s often because of time away from home, situational low wages, time-costing Covid protocols, tedious regulations, and cultural trends favoring white-collar careers.  

Exacerbating the supply chain management crisis is the possible vaccine mandate with which 37 percent of current drivers say they’ll refuse to comply, and then there’s the unknown number of how many potential drivers who will stay away. Couple that looming challenge with an all but certain increase in demand for goods, and suddenly the industry experts have our attention. 

But what can be done?

For one, supply and demand will have its day. Pay will increase even more than the 20 percent climb we’ve recently enjoyed. The downside there is that as wages go up, so do transportation costs, then prices of goods increase. Since truck drivers transport over 80 percent of the products in this country….the writing is on the wallet. And these costs will go up in all phases of the shipping process - from the harvester or materials provider, to the manufacturer, to the wholesaler, to the retailer, or by whatever other means. 

Other likely solutions to recruit and retain drivers would be to improve worker conditions, like reducing time away from home, modifying some regulations and protocols, and lowering the driving age. One thing is sure, though, the government, businesses, trucking industry, and even consumers will all be involved in the process of solving this catastrophe in supply chain management.  

On a final note

We want you to know that Eagle Logistics is making driver satisfaction a top priority. We offer highly competitive pay and benefits, reduce time away from home (ask us about our hometime policy), and strive to create a workplace environment that is supportive and positive. We think of our drivers as a family. If you’ve ever considered becoming a truck driver, we would love for you to contact us and come work with us. We have excellent driver retention for a reason and we’d love to show you why!