ENID, Okla.—The truck driver shortage in the U.S. has driven companies to source drivers from abroad, the Seattle Times/Bloomberg reports. While the U.S. has experienced a continuous deficit of drivers, the pandemic pushed the shortage into crisis levels.
“We’re living through the worst driver shortage that we’ve seen in recent history, by far,” said Jose Gomez-Urquiza, CEO of Visa Solutions.
The lack of drivers to move goods and fuel has the potential to hobble the economy.
“If we’re not able to haul these goods, our economy virtually shuts down,” said Holly McCormick, a recruiter with Groendyke Transport who has been trying to fill open slots with foreign drivers. Many companies are looking to South Africa, Mexico and Canada for drivers to bring goods across the United States.
This summer, the trucking industry asked the U.S. Labor Department to give the industry a pass around some immigration certification processes to expedite the hiring of foreign drivers as well as adjust the minimum age for interstate drivers.
“We’ve got 21 drivers right now who are qualified, who can come to this country the right way and are ready to come here and solve this problem,” said Andre LeBlanc, vice president of operations at Petroleum Marketing Group, which delivers fuel to about 1,300 gas stations.
Two years ago, the U.S. had a 60,000-driver shortfall, according to the American Trucking Associations. By 2023, that number will jump to 100,000, according to the group’s chief economist Bob Costello.
For more on this crisis, read the special reports “Trucker Shortage Hits Home,” and “Higher Pay for the Long Haul” in NACS Daily.