The American Trucking Association estimates that there was a shortage of 30,000 qualified truck drivers earlier this year. That number is on track to rise to 200,000 over the next decade. According to the New York Times, trucking companies are turning away work because they can’t find enough drivers to do it. This growing shortage seems odd when one considers that America is still associated with a jobless rate in excess of 6 percent.
But also, basic economics suggests that this should not be happening. After all, if there is a shortage of a particular amenity, the price paid for that amenity rises until the marketplace is brought into equilibrium. Based on existing and forecasted truck driver shortages, one would expect that truck driver wages would not be rising rapidly. But they are not.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, heavy and tractor trailer drivers were paid 6 percent less on average in 2013 than a decade earlier once one adjusts for inflation. It may be that many trucking companies feel that truckers already make enough. The average pay for a long-haul trucker is just shy of $50,000 and an experienced trucker with a good safety record can earn significantly more than that.