Friday, April 26, 2019

There isn't a truck driver shortage?

From the in-house journal of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this fascinating article with a really interesting conclusion (emphasis mine):
...The occupation of truck driving is often portrayed by the industry and in the popular press as beset by high levels of turnover and persistent “labor shortages.” Our analysis of OES data agrees that the labor market for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers shows markers of a “tight” labor market over the period since 2003—employment in the occupation has been resilient, and nominal annual wages have persistently exceeded those of other blue-collar jobs with similar human capital requirements. While we do use ATA data to identify one segment of the trucking labor market (long-distance TL motor freight) that has experienced high and persistent turnover rates for decades, the overall picture is consistent with a market in which labor supply responds to increasing labor demand over time, and a deeper look does not find evidence of a secular shortage...
I've been reading economists talking to one another for about 10 years now, and there is one thing that is clear - very few of them will ever agree that there's a such thing as a labor shortage. 


  1. "The persistently high turnover presents TL-segment managers, who employ between one-sixth and one-fourth of all heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, with a real business problem: managing recruitment and retention when many individuals entering the occupation in this specific part of the trucking industry find the working conditions and earnings to be unattractive."
    It's a lot less enjoyable to be a truck driver than it used to be, thanks to well-meaning regulations. Drivers are controlled/micromanaged by GPS, and breaks must be taken for exactly 10 hours after exactly 14 hours of driving, which reduces driver comfort by forcing them to stop at the side of the interstate instead of at a truck stop or service plaza with bathrooms, showers, meals, laundry facilities, etc. It's also not fun for either the driver or those stuck behind him when a GPS-controlled truck governed at 67 MPH slowly passes another one governed at 65 MPH.

  2. It also depends on your time frame. As the author says "labor supply responds to increasing labor demand". Eventually owners offer more money to entice drivers, so more drivers show up. This might take several years, so at any given moment there may be a shortage.

  3. All these are likely to change after Tesla introduces driver-less trucks to haul freights from end to end of the US. Or else, how are we going to make bad situation worse like the company did to, the chemists?


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20