“Drivers Wanted!” We have all seen the signs on the backs of semi-trucks on the highway. It seems that every trucking company is hiring. Can that actually be the case? Well, it’s kind of true. The demand for trucking jobs has exploded in the last several years, and now is the perfect time to cash in on the explosion. Trucking jobs in Asheville is no exception….many are needed.
Why are There so Many Jobs in Trucking Now?
There’s a time-tested economic idea centered around the idea that the price of a good or service is dictated by that good’s supply and that good’s demand. If supply goes up and demand remains constant the price drops. If the demand goes up and supply remains constant, the price goes up. If demand goes up while supply goes down, the price goes up significantly. Keep that last sentence in mind, we’ll come back to it in a minute.
We can easily identify what is happening to this supply-demand relationship by looking at “spot prices” and “contract prices.” A spot price and a contract price in trucking are the per-mile costs to ship goods. For example, a $2.15 spot price in Dallas, TX means that trucking companies in Dallas at this hour will deliver a company’s merchandise for $2.15 per mile. Contract prices are generally negotiated on a longer-term basis, say one year. If a trucking company accepts a $2.15 contract price, that means they will deliver merchandise for that per-mile rate for a set time-period. Spot and contract prices fluctuate constantly depending on the need for truck drivers (think: demand) and the availability of truck drivers (think: supply).
When spot and contract prices both increase, it means that the demand for truck deliveries is increasing, the supply for truck deliveries is decreasing, or both events are occurring. The bad news for merchandisers (and great news for trucking companies and truck drivers) is that both contract and spot prices have been increasing steadily over the past several years, indicating that more deliveries need to be made, but that America lacks enough drivers to fulfill those deliveries. Heartland Express, a large trucking company, turns down nearly 100,000 loads per week, citing lack of enough drivers as the reason (https://www.wsj.com/articles/trucking-rates-come-down-a-bit-but-problems-persist-for-shippers-1518729334). Trucking jobs are in high demand, and they will be for a very long time.
The implications are stark for everybody. When trucking companies demand higher rates to haul goods, these increased costs are passed on to consumers. Everything in your local store is delivered by semi-truck at some point, so if you see prices for items ranging from batteries to cleaning supplies increasing, rest assured that increased transportation costs are partially to blame.Reasons that Demand is Increasing:
1.) Globalization. In the last 20 years, the world has become increasingly more global. What this means is, it is very easy for somebody in America to place an order from an international company located in Asia, South America, or Europe, and have merchandise shipped over to America. When that merchandise is received in American ports, it needs to be delivered to locations all across America. Often times, merchandise is loaded into rail cars, which are then sent to various locations across the US. At some point, though, that merchandise needs to be off-loaded from a rail car onto a semi truck and delivered to a warehouse or store. In other cases, the merchandise never sees a rail car in the first place (trucks are much faster), and merchandise heads straight from the port or the airport to a warehouse.
2.) “Just in Time” Delivery. Many companies demand “just in time” delivery from their suppliers. Let’s take WalMart, for example. WalMart does not want to store more than several days of merchandise on hand at one time. They prefer the merchandise to be sent in every few days, in order to reduce storage costs. This means that WalMart’s suppliers need to send trucks very often to WalMart in order to supply WalMart with material to sell. Trains are too slow to respond to changing inventory levels, and cannot offload in town where WalMart is located.Reasons that Supply is Decreasing
1.) Many drivers are retiring. The average truck driver in the US is 55 years old (https://www.npr.org/2018/01/09/576752327/trucking-industry-struggles-with-growing-driver-shortage). For truckers that have driven all their lives, many are considering retiring, or moving into a different line of work as they get older. This reduces the number of truck drivers and thus truck deliveries that can be made.
2.) Changing federal regulations. New regulations require electronic trip monitoring and various changes to vehicles to prevent harmful pollutants from entering the atmosphere. Small trucking companies do not have the resources to outfit their older trucks with this equipment or do not have the resources to purchase new trucks with the required equipment, and in turn, many small trucking companies are expected to go out of business in the next few years, firing their drivers along with them. Drivers who work for large trucking companies do not need to worry about this since many large companies operate with the newest fleet and most advanced trucks on the market.
3.) Ideas about the industry that may not be true. Many think of a trucker as a nomadic person, on the road their whole life, bouncing from city to city. If this sounds like the ideal life for you, there is a trucking job out there for you. However, most trucking jobs are not like this. Many jobs allow drivers to come home every night, and some companies will stipulate in your contract how many nights “on the road” (away from home) you are likely to be every week, which will often be less than half of the week for “over the road” truck drivers.Benefits of Being a Truck Driver:
Being a truck driver is a unique job. First, not many people can say they get to travel the country and experience new scenery and interact with different people from multiple regions throughout their careers. As a truck driver, you can do all that. Your job could take you through the Big Apple in New York City, down to the sun-kissed beaches of Florida, across the rolling plains of the Midwest, up the redwood-soaked 101 through California, Oregon, and Washington, through the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, and over to the glimmering lights of Las Vegas, all while getting paid..
Great pay. Entry-level (think: first year) truck jobs pay more than $50K their first year, while the average truck driver salary is nearly $80K per year. If your partner is interested in trucking, consider working as a driving team. Trucking companies love driving team and teams can deliver large loads quicker than single drivers can. Large trucking companies will often offer sign-on bonuses and benefits, including medical, dental, and vision coverage as part of your employment.
Limited training required. Truck drivers need to operate large vehicles, so must have a valid CDL (commercial drivers license). To make yourself the most qualified, get a Class A CDL, which will allow you to operate the biggest loads (that pay the best). Many trucking companies will subsidize your driving school, and some will even pay for it, provided that you work for that company for a certain number of years. You do not need to have an advanced college degree for a trucking job, which is amazing considering the pay that truck drivers can receive.
Advancement opportunities exist in trucking jobs as well. Experienced drivers who operate their own show are called “owner-operators.” Owner-operators own their own truck and dictate what types of loads they want and where they want to drive. Owner-operators have the most flexibility and get paid several times more than other truck drivers get paid, however, they must pay for all expenses on the truck themselves. Some owner-operators enjoy decking their truck out with a nice kitchen, shower, and comfortable bed for nights on the road (and these trucks look stunning inside). Business-savvy owner-operators may go on to start their own trucking business.Trucking Jobs are in High Demand:
The US is estimated to need more than 100,000 trucking jobs by 2022 (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/04/26/truck-driver-shortage-raises-prices/535870002/
). Thinking back to our supply-demand relationship, if supply does not catch up to this demand, then the cost to transport goods, and in turn, the salary to truck drivers, is going to increase. Working as a truck driver, you can rest easy knowing you would have a secure job down the road.