LITTLE ROCK, Ark – An ongoing shortage in the trucking industry is impacting everyone. A study by the American Trucking Association reports 80,000 openings for truck drivers nationwide. Kelly Crow, the Vice President of Arkansas Trucking Association says pay wages have increased to attract drivers.
“The 2019 study found it was an 18 percent increase for truckload drivers earning an average salary of $69,000,” Crow said.
Crow says 90 percent of fleets nationwide have increased pay which is good news for truck drivers in Arkansas.
“We actually employ one in ten Arkansans in the trucking industry so if the trucking industry is paying more it’s actually a good thing not just for trucking but for Arkansas as a whole because of how many people are employed here,” Crow continued.
Despite the pay raises reported in 2019 and in 2021, the shortage is still prevalent.
“The trucking industry is competing against construction and manufacturing for the same candidate pool,” said Crow.
As for trying to keep drivers that are already in the industry, Crow says more benefits are being offered.
“They [trucking companies] are also doing sign-on bonuses or referral bonuses for existing drivers to help bring on new drivers,” Crow assured.
Crow says the pay raises show the necessity of truckers.
“If you bought it, a truck brought it is what we like to say. Everything from the shoes on your feet to the beds you sleep in, a truck brought it to your home,” said Crow.
But to Ohio truck driver, Abdihakim Hassan, there’s a different reason some truckers aren’t returning.
“People are not going back to trucking because of one reason: the economy,” Hassan said.
As for Mississippi truck driver, Timothy Reed he says why he thinks the truck driver shortage won’t be going away anytime soon.
“You got all these diseases in corona and monkeypox, nowadays it just isn’t what it was 15 years ago,” said Reed.
Crow adds beyond the wage increases showing that drivers are needed, it also demonstrates how essential they are to delivering our way of life.