The U.S. trucking industry has grown considerably, even amid a trucker shortage.
According to one estimate, that growth could equal a 4.2% increase in volume in 2018.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that the increase will be as a result of more manufacturing production and a steady economy. The 4.2% increase will be a boom for an industry that will see average volume growth of 2.3% each year from 2019 to 2024.
The trucker shortage – the industry needs over 63,000 more truckers – could put a crimp in growth beyond this year as demand is outstripping supply.
The good news for the industry, though, is that the average revenue for mile is increasing at the highest rate the industry has seen since the early 1990s at the least. The ATA suspects that the rate is actually the highest the industry has ever seen, once more data comes in.
In 2017, the trucking industry was responsible for over $700 billion in revenue, which is 79.3 percent of all freight revenue across the nation. It is likely that this figure will be higher after 2018 concludes, and it could rise each year beyond that if the economy continues to grow and can navigate past the trucker shortage.
Problems That Could Stall Growth
The problems that could lower the 4.2% increase, as predicted by the ATA, include rising load prices and an infrastructure that is slowly but surely disintegrating, in addition to the trucker shortage.
Rising load prices are primarily caused by a supply shortage. This deficiency isn’t just due to the trucker shortage; it is also due to sharply-rising demand as more and more companies increase the volume of goods they ship. Amazon is a key example of a company that is putting more products on the roads with each passing year.
Solutions vary, but typically include some combination of adding more truckers (or trucker alternatives like automated vehicles) and passing a much-needed infrastructure bill. The bill is not likely to pass before 2019, and companies are struggling to find people to drive trucks and replace the scores of truckers who are retiring or leaving.
Trucking companies will have to raise pay and improve training opportunities, potentially with help from government, in order to attract the truckers they need.
Still, America’s trucking industry remains strong and will prove to be resilient enough to withstand headwinds as the economy continues to improve.
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