The truck industry in the United States is experiencing shortage of experienced drivers. The shortage is expected to be reaching almost 34,000 truck drivers according to the American Trucking Association. While the shortage have caused struggle for freight companies and increased freight rates, it could also lead to increase of prices of goods and thus be a cause for inflation. If no solutions is found the shortfall could reach up to 240,000 drivers by 2020 according to the abovementioned association if the problem is not tackled. The driver shortage led to the increases of the rates per mile for long-term shipments of almost 8 percent in August 2014, which is almost 1.80 USD per mile and the gap between demand and supply seems to be growing. It is common for the trucking companies to experience shortage of human capital, due to the construction work opportunities in the economy as the drivers may work at home without travelling far away in their trucks. However, the current shortage is not cyclical, as it seems and is likely to be caused by demographic and regulatory changes in the society. The regulations have put an end to unlimited hours the drivers can drive and the federal government, which uses new technology to exert pressure on the freight companies, requires these regulations in an efficient way. The demographic changes and growing percentage of elder population seems to be the major problem though.
There could be however rescue available due to the technology developments (Besomi et al.,1999). The evolution in medicine help the population to be able to work until later age, so it can be expected that drivers could be older than today and still actively work if driving is less demanding. In addition, the innovations related to the safety and ability of driving are supporting the abovementioned thesis. The Non-Hit Car and Truck project, created by Volvo, dramatically reduces the number of accidents (Koh et al., 2014). Car making companies such as Audi, Tesla or Mercedes-Benz are testing driverless vehicles that may ease to a major extent driving effort. Advances in logistics and GPS related technology may actually reduce the number of kilometers of transport and so reduce the need for drivers (Boskin et al., 2010). At last, general evolution of the truck making industry, which makes cars lighter, more efficient, and thus capable of transportation of higher loads, may be offsetting imbalances in human capital offer.
Koh, Winston T. H., Leung, H. (2014). “Education, Technological Progress and Economic Growth”. Working Paper.
Besomi, D. (1999). “Harrod on the classification of technological progress. The origin of a wild-goose chase”. BNL Quarterly Review.
Boskin, M., Lawrence, J. (2010). “Generalized Solow-Neutral Technical Progress and Postwar Economic Growth”. NBER Working Paper.