A boom in eCommerce shipping, along with electronic driver monitoring devices, is making the already tight truck driver market worse, according to CNBC.
Truck drivers haul almost 71 percent – or 10.6 billion tons – of the tonnage shipped annually in the U.S., according to American Trucking Association data. The industry has been dealing with a shortage of drivers for years, and the shortfall rose above 50,000 last year. Among the reasons for the shortfall is an aging workforce that isn’t being replaced by younger workers who see poor compensation for being away from home for long stretches of time, according to the report. There’s also another culprit: Amazon.
Overall, eCommerce has had a “huge effect,” Steve Viscelli, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies labor markets and automation, told CNBC. In 2012, trucks moved a total of 10.2 billion tons, a level that’s projected to rise to 14.9 billion in 2045, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data. Including all sales from eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores, Amazon sold 4 percent of all retail goods in the U.S. last year, according to an earlier CNBC report.
Along with the increasing volume of materials hauled by trucks, recent mandates require electronic logging of truck driver hours. These rules are intended to ensure that drivers get enough rest, with an eye toward improving highway safety. New monitoring put into place in December means all driver hours on the road are logged, when previously the clock started only when drivers picked up their truckloads from customers. As a result, there was an almost 10 percent immediate drop in driver productivity, a clear sign drivers had been working longer than the rules dictated, according to the report.
CNBC scanned executive statements to investors and found that at least six large companies have directly referenced the U.S. driver shortage in calls and presentations with their investors over the past three months. The companies cited include Hasbro, Volvo and Sprouts Farmers Market.
“Trucking is right now … experiencing a severe crisis,” Robert Csongor told investors on March 27. Csongor is vice president and general manager of automotive at NVIDIA. “There’s a shortage of trucking drivers driven by the Amazon age.”