Why hiring more truck drivers won’t fix the shortage

As the Trump administration considers alleviating a shortage of truck drivers by lowering the age requirement to 18 from 21, a truck industry leader said that would do little to solve the actual problem – retention.

“We’ve been hearing about a truck driver shortage for about 30 years now,” Todd Spencer, the owner-operate of the Independent Driver’s Association said during an interview with FOX Business’ Charles Payne. “What they’re really talking about is they have retention issues.”

According to the American Trucking Association, the industry was short more than 36,000 drivers in 2016, and estimated that number could surpass 63,000 in 2018, and 174,000 in 2026. The trade group attributes the driver shortage, in part, to a lack of qualified applicants that lack the desired experience or qualifications. But according to Spencer, the low pay and lack of benefits for truck drivers is what’s driving the lack of employees. Drivers are hired, but when there’s little pay-increase opportunities, they leave, he said.

“They’re adequate enough to attract people,” he said. “But not adequate enough to keep them.”

Truckers generally don’t receive a salary, and are paid per mile -- not per hour. They’re also exempt from federal standards that apply to most other industries, like the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established a minimum wage and overtime pay eligibility.

“The only way they can hope to make more is to try to work more hours,” he said. “And realistically, a job where you'll work 80 or more hours a week away from home for about $53,000 a year, which is what average pay is, people will look to replace that job, not pursue it as a career.”