Truck driving shortage impacting cost of goods

Truck driver shortage could drive up prices

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A nationwide shortage of truckers could be helping to drive prices up at places you and your family shop.

It’s a trend that began before the pandemic, but the increased strain on the industry over the past year hasn’t made things any easier.

Almost 75 percent of all freight is transported, by truck according to the American Trucking Associations, from household goods to vaccines. It puts a strain on trucking companies, including those here in Alabama.

“We celebrated our 75th anniversary in 2019, we started in 1944,” said Bo Watkins, of Watkins Trucking.

With generational experience, Watkins Trucking is keeping a close eye on trends.

“It seems like more and more frequently, the driver shortage is coming up,” he noted.

The ATA estimates the industry will need a million more drivers over the next decade... and could use about 100,000 more right now. That’s part of why deliveries are starting to cost consumers more.

“It’s not just trucking, it’s fuel costs, it’s the cost of equipment, the cost of insurance, all of these things play a part in it,” Watkins explained.

And consumers notice.

“It filters down to your goods and services for sure,” Watkins said.

For their part, they are increasing wages and looking to recruit younger workers.

“It’s a tough job and it’s really important, it’s one of the most important jobs in our economy,” said Watkins.

The latest salary average on Indeed for truck drivers is about $63,000 a year, but that depends on the company.

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