A Labor Shortage in the Trucking Industry Should Worry Global Supply Chains

By Logan Wamsley

In what is only the latest indicated of a deep, complex supply chain crisis, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations told CNN that the trucking industry is now a record 80,000 drivers short.

Although this issue is not new, the COVID-19 pandemic has skyrocketed this issue to near catastrophic proportions. Before the pandemic, the shortage was approximately 61,500. From then to today, that represents a 30% increase. According to Spear, “that’s a pretty big spike.”
Such conditions put serious limitations on the proposals including 24/7 port operations the U.S. government has just rolled out on collaboration with major business such as Walmart, The Home Depot, UPS, and Samsung. “24/7 operations – it’s an improvement,” said Spear. “But it doesn’t matter if it’s a port in LA or Long Beach, or the last mile of delivery from a train to a warehouse in Wichita. You’re going to have to have a driver and a truck move that freight.” According to the American Trucking Associations, 71% of the goods in the U.S. economy are moved by truckers.

The disparity is predicted only to worsen. According to Spears, should current trends continue, the shortage will extend to 160,000 drivers by 2030, and over 1,000,000 new drivers will be needed in the next ten years. By any measure, these figures are staggering and sobering.

Such realties also should resonate deeply within the manufacturing community who rely on timely, consistent shipments of critical inventory to maintain production schedules. Facing labor shortages in the transportation industry, supply chains will be forced to decouple from just-in-time delivery models in favor of large initial inventory purchases and long-term storage. Doing so, however, requires both upfront capital to make such investments, as well as an overhaul of storage infrastructure and warehousing procedures. If the organization’s infrastructure is not capable of storing and maintaining the integrity of their inventory over two, five, or even 20+ years in industries such as healthcare, the need for reliable, trustworthy third-party storage providers will be more important than ever.

If the trucking industry continues to be what many consider the “weak link” in the global supply chain, companies that depend on it need to uncover solutions to minimize the risk. For more information on how an Inventory Ownership Solution can help, contact a Partstat representative today.