It appears media wars are not limited to cable news networks promoting biased political views. A recent dust-up between the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the FreightWaves industry news platform highlights how expert resources forcefully stake out their positions. An article penned by FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller dubbed the long-held assertion the U.S. struggles with a truck driver shortage erroneous.
“Generally speaking, the driver shortage myth stems from larger trucking companies that find it difficult to recruit drivers into their fleet operations. After all, fleets have to compete for truck drivers with other trucking companies. In addition, some licensed truck drivers go to work in other sectors of the economy, like construction and warehousing. But the fleets also have to compete against the growth of independent operators,” Fuller states. “The American Trucking Associations propagates the narrative of the shortage. ATA members consist of midsize and large trucking fleets, which have increasingly become a smaller percentage of the trucking industry’s total capacity.”
Firing that shot across the bow of the ATA didn’t stand long without a response. Although Fuller uses a series of statistical graphs to make his case that the driver shortage “is not real,” an ATA comeback takes a deep dive into wide-reaching global data.
- In Europe, driver shortages jumped by 42 percent from 2020 to 2021, with vacant driver positions reaching 71,000 in Romania, 80,000 in both Poland and Germany, and 100,000 in the UK. In Mexico, shortages rose by 30 percent to reach 54,000. ~ 2022 Global Driver Shortage Report
- “On the Tennessee Department of Labor Workforce Development’s website, they had listed about 1100 open CDL driver jobs in the state of Tennessee, but that’s just from the companies who chose to post on the state website. Not all do that,” said TBR Center for Workforce Development Executive Director Jeff Sisk. “I’m sure the number is at least double that in the state of Tennessee — at least a couple thousand CDL jobs right now.” ~Associated Press and Tennessee Board of Regents
As evidence of a persistent driver shortage, the ATA calls upon pay scale statistics. For-hire truckers have reportedly experienced pay increases of 23.5 percent since January 2020, and truckload drivers enjoyed 18 percent hikes. An ATA survey also found that 90 percent of truckload carriers raised salaries by more than 10 percent between 2020 and 2021. The ATA’s reasoning is that companies are paying higher rates because they are competing for a limited pool of qualified truck drivers.