Severe shortage of truck drivers is creating all kinds of problems

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Trucking officials say that, for a variety of reasons, there has been a deficit of truck drivers across the country for more than a decade.

But with the economy reopening, E-commerce growing by leaps and bounds, and the lingering COVID-19 setbacks, it has all combined to create what some may call the perfect storm.

"It's as bad as we've ever seen it," said American Trucking Association's Chief Economist Bob Costello.

According to the ATA, the trucking industry was already 61,000 drivers short of demand back in 2019. Then the pandemic hit.

"Truck driver training schools shut down, or they trained a fraction of what they normally do. Plus, DMV's were issuing fewer drivers licenses because they had limited hours," Costello said.

The result is an industry so desperate for drivers that prospective truckers are being treated like blue-chip athletic recruits.

Shipping firms are actually going to trucking schools and offering to have jobs waiting for students when they graduate.

Signing bonuses are being offered, plus full benefits.

Bill Messenger, president of Campbell's Express Trucking, in Pitman, New Jersey, says with increased demand comes increased income.

"My average drivers are making in the '80s, $80,000," he said. "I had a guy last year over $100,000."

But what is good for truckers is creating problems for consumers.

RELATED: So many shortages! List of major consumer goods affected by supply chain interruptions

Consider that 73% of goods across the country are transported by truck.

Trucker shortages slow the supply chain resulting in price increases for everything from food to fuel.

Even garbage pick-up is now being impacted.

Officials from Burlington County, New Jersey recently announced that the shortage of qualified and trained drivers has forced them to make changes to the recycling collection schedules in every municipality across the county.

Then you have the impact on e-commerce deliveries.

Part of the hiring push is focused on getting more women into the industry. While they make up 47% of the workforce, only 7% of truckers are women.
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.