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Sep 5, 2022
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Trucker Shortage Has the US Looking for Truckers Abroad 

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USA Trucker Shortage & Searching Abroad

The ever-rising trucker shortage, if not contained, will threaten the US economy sooner or later. The American Trucking Association estimates the shortage at around 63,000 in 2020, and those numbers could explode in the coming years. By 2028, America could need to fill as many as 160,000 trucker jobs. Understanding the dire circumstances, trucking companies have set their eyes abroad to meet the hard-pressing shortage. 

Why the United States Seeks Truckers from Abroad from Trucker Shortage

You can’t miss the ominous implications, but many underestimate how bad things could become if we don’t address this growing crisis. Gas stations could struggle to keep gasoline available, and airports could run out of jet fuel. To give an example of its influence, lumber prices shot up six times the regular price, with many analysts blaming delivery delays behind the out-of-control costs. 

Unable to haul and deliver goods, the heart of our economy stops beating, and productivity grinds to a halt without truckers. There is a huge trucker shortage that needs to be addressed.

Seeking Drivers from around the World

Because of the rising trucker shortage, trucking companies have begun to reach out to other nations to fulfill the demand. They often start with English-speaking countries like South Africa and Canada to bring in more drivers, but many believe that the growing demand will require them to search for drivers from around the globe. 

The advantage of English-speaking drivers is that it makes it easier for them to earn their CDL than if they couldn’t speak the language. They still need to meet the standards and regulations in the trucking industry even amid the shortage. 

Some of the regions where they may look for drivers to supply the growing demand include:

  • Mexico
  • Eastern Europe
  • Middle East
  • Asia

 Most figures show 30 percent of the foreign drivers in the United States are from Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Europe. 

The Unforgiving Struggle

Part of the problem stems from how drivers still require to follow through with the trucking guidelines, which can sometimes look unrealistic and difficult for drivers. A trucking company might have 24 candidates that sign up from abroad. Still, they learn how only three of them qualify for driving in the United States because they were disqualified by one criterion or another. 

Looking for drivers from abroad may ease the pain of the shortage, but we shouldn’t look at it as a silver bullet. Some of the most pressing issues in trucking remain alive and well, and we need to address those problems if we will ever land on our feet with the growing shortage. 

Some of the things driving the shortage include:

  • Difficult trucker lifestyle
  • Historically low pay 
  • Poor driver treatment from companies
  • Hard on families
  • A sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain

The trucker shortage fuels increasing payments to truckers, but many say that driver income remains woefully behind the curve, primarily because of the difficulty of the lifestyle. Another one of the difficulties in bringing in new drivers is the regulation that restricts young people from going right into a career in trucking. You must be over 21 to sign up for long-haul trucking, so you can’t start over-the-road trucking right from the start. You can do statewide driving, but these jobs aren’t as abundant and have a high demand.

Worst Driver Shortage in Recent History

 Undoubtedly, the current driver shortage sets itself apart as one of the worst shortages that we have ever had. The demand for drivers has become so desperate that the trucking industry has requested that the US Labor Department eases some restrictions and certifications surrounding immigration. They have asked that they adjust the minimum age for interstate drivers as well. This will expedite hiring drivers from other countries to set them straight to fulfilling the demand. 

Painting a Picture

 To paint a picture of how companies have taken to foreign drivers, A&M Transport hired 20 foreign drivers within the last year, and they plan to hire a dozen more workers to fulfill the need. Showing you part of the problem, the long wait for approval has hurt the industry as well. Andrew Owens, the CEO of A&M Transport, says that he has waited four years since 2017 to get approval for some of his potential candidates! Luckily, as the crisis worsens, they will likely make the restrictions much easier for foreign drivers. The Biden administration has designated a task force that will address the supply chain problems. 

The Hurdles for Foreign Truck Drivers

Foreign drivers face several pressing issues, such as visa limits and complicated immigration rules. The trucking industry has had to work closely with the government to overcome some of these obstacles. Low driver retention and a 90 percent driver turnover rate have only fueled the demand for drivers. 

Recruiting in South Africa

Holly McCormick, throughout a 10-year trucking career, has found herself in need of drivers. McCormick has said that she had to double her budget since the pandemic began to bring in more drivers, but even then, she still struggles to recruit. As such, she began to coordinate with an agency in South Africa to fulfill the demand for drivers. 

The pandemic led to two defining problems for the trucking industry. First, the demand for goods skyrocketed, causing shortages around the United States. The other issue came from how many of the older drivers didn’t want to take the risk of catching the virus since driving around to many regions put them at a higher risk. That led to widespread early retirements, and when you have a large part of the demographic in the 40 and older category, that led to many on the verge of retirement deciding to retire early.

During a pandemic, the trucker shortage also highlights another danger of having too few drivers. With not enough drivers, they struggled to meet the demand, and this led to many shelves lacking common goods like toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and meats.

An estimated 80 percent of all the communities in the United States depend on semi-trucks to deliver medicines, clothing, fuel, and other consumer goods. 

The Worldwide Problem

Looking beyond the scope of the United States, the truck driver shortage has become severe around the world. You have many countries suffering from the same problem as the United States. Not enough people want trucking jobs, which has led to a shortage. The challenging work conditions have meant that dozens of countries suffer from the shortage. 

Some of the countries include:

  • Great Britain
  • Mexico
  • Russia
  • China 
  • South Africa

This by no means shows you an extensive list of countries struggling with a worldwide trucker shortage. 

Understanding the Hourly Wages in Trucking

Even looking at drivers’ salaries can be misleading because most over-the-road truckers receive payment by the mile. Most will receive $200 for a 500-mile trek. If that trek takes eight hours of driving, you earn around $25 per hour. Unfortunately, the rate depends on traffic. Let’s say that you get stuck in Chicago rush-hour traffic. Rush hour in the cities can cut that pay down to $20 per hour. 

What you earn depends heavily on what the traffic conditions look like. Driving in snowstorms comes with its share of problems as you need to slow down in bad weather to stay safe. That doesn’t provide you with the best earnings. Combine that with days, weeks, or even months spent away from home. Not everyone wants this lifestyle.

Trucking companies don’t always fulfill the promises it makes to its drivers, leading to a high driver turnover rate. In some cases, a trucking company might make promises that you will come home at the end of every week. Instead, the driver finds themselves away from home for two weeks or even a month at a time. 

Trucker Shortage Opportunity for Foreign Drivers

Anyone who became a trucker with the credentials will have plenty of opportunities. They can come to the United States legally, and they can fulfill demand while receiving excellent pay. When you come to the United States to drive a truck, you make an average of $4,731 per month. To put it into perspective, truck drivers in South Africa earn $1,030 per month on the higher end, but most average around $694 per month. As you can see, truckers looking to profit from this trucker shortage opportunity may want to look abroad to the United States to see what they can earn. 

You don’t have a single way to address the growing trucker shortage, but through taking it on with multiple approaches, we can return the trucking industry to a healthy number of drivers. With each passing year, technology has made it easier for truck drivers because they can still connect with friends and family back home. Addressing how many millennials view trucking would go a long way in helping to bring in more truckers to the industry.

BetterTruckDrivingJobs.com hopes that this article addresses the nationwide Trucker Shortage in great detail. Feel free to add your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

Truck drivers should also check out our FREE truck driving job postings.

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