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Truck driver says worker retention in trucking industry is a problem

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 9:32 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Truckers are still in high demand as a shortage in the industry amplifies our country’s supply chain crisis.

The American Trucking Association says truckers move 72% of America’s goods, but an increase in trucking costs during the pandemic has led to a trucker shortage.

A driver within the industry that spoke with WBRC says there’s another reason.

Sheila Nichols has been a truck driver for seven years and has worked at several different companies. Though she is happy now, she admits that she hasn’t always been because it’s a hard field to work in.

Not only are the drivers constantly on the road and away from home, she believes some aren’t being paid enough.

Nichols says a leading cause for the employee shortage stems from retention rates. Many jump in the industry or take the classes and quickly leave. She says a big reason for this are low wages for the excessive amount of work.

While there are exceptions depending on the company, Nichols says most aren’t paying nearly high enough.

“If you look at the rate in 1970 versus now, according to inflation, we’d be over $100,000 each year,” said Nichols. “We’re not making anywhere near that.”

She says she started in the industry making $37,000 with a mega carrier. At her current employer, she was bumped up to $46,000 and now she makes 50 cents a mile.

While she admits it’s not a lot, Nichols says the reason she’s staying in the industry is because she enjoys her employer and feels appreciated.

She says past companies treated her like a number instead of a person., and many are experiencing that right now.

Nichols believes if truck drivers were treated with more dignity and compensated more for their work, there wouldn’t be such a shortage.

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