Federal agency predicts shortage will hit 200,000 next year.
MIDDLETOWN — As the trucking industry prepares to face a shortage of hundreds of thousands of drivers, local transport industries are confronting more than just a shortage of manpower.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says the current shortage will grow to 200,000 drivers by next year, and two million truck driving positions will need to be filled by 2018. The industry employs close to 3.5 million drivers each year. “There’s no doubt there’s a shortage,” said Ken Henderson, president of JP Transport in Middletown. “The average driver is 51 years old, but we’re not getting people to replace them.”
Henderson said as prospective truckers graduate from academies and get certified, they are put into a precarious position.
Transport companies that deliver regionally — which may allow for relatively normal hours and weekends off — are not always self-insured and regulations put on by insurance companies may require certain years of experience before being hired onto a regional transport company. The larger freight movers, however, operate on different hours and have people away from home longer, which creates a situation Henderson calls a “Catch-22”: recent graduates need experience to get the job they want but cannot get it unless they “pay their dues” working for companies that may have them out for longer periods of time — something many new truckers want to avoid.
Dennis Bailey, director of the Ohio Business College Truck Driving in Middletown, said that truck driving in its essence is a job that is unique in many ways.
“The trucking industry is the first to see any downturn of the economy and the first to see the upturn,” Bailey said. “But the economy’s changed (the industry).”
The problem is one that may be unique to only a select few industries, Bailey said.
“It’s not a nine-to-five job,” he said. “It’s just a different lifestyle.”
Trucking could be a boost in income for some. Drivers of heavy loads and tractor trailers earned $19.55 per hour at the end of 2010 and made an average of $40,664 per year, according to the latest Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services statistics available... Continue reading...