The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said that the U.S. is facing a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers, impacting both retailers and consumers. The U.S. will need 898,000 additional drivers over the next 10 years to meet future demand, CNBC reported.
The industry faces some challenges: The trucking lifestyle can be challenging, with drivers working long hours away from home for long periods of time. In addition, electronic logging devices (ELDs) limit the number of hours a driver can work. And, even though Goldman Sachs projects that autonomous cars could take 25,000 jobs per month, self-driving trucks might not solve the truck driver shortage in the near future.
Bob Costello, chief economist at ATA, told CNBC, "Driverless trucks are decades away. That is not the solution."
A boom in eCommerce shipping, along with electronic driver monitoring devices, has made the already tight truck driver market worse, CNBC previously reported. Truck drivers haul almost 71 percent — or 10.6 billion tons — of the tonnage shipped annually in the U.S., according to ATA data. 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.
Steve Viscelli, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies labor markets and automation, told CNBC that, overall, eCommerce has had a “huge effect.” 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. An earlier CNBC report said that, including all sales from eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores, Amazon sold 4 percent of all retail goods in the U.S. last year.
Amazon recently increased the cost of its Prime membership from $99 a year to $119 per year. The eCommerce retailer attributed the increase to the service’s rising costs, although it didn’t reveal how much the service costs to run.