Calling All Truckers

A national shortage of truck drivers is disrupting the supply chain.

August 17, 2023

The national shortage of truck drivers is disrupting the supply chain and it will continue to worsen in the coming years if the issue is not addressed.

There is a shortage of more than 80,000 drivers, with that figure expected to double over the next decade.

As noted by the Brimich Group, almost 70% of all freight is transported on roads. This breeds a significant supply chain dependence on the industry. All that trucking requires people behind the wheel to deliver. But where are all the drivers going and why don’t they just “keep on truckin’”?

Fifty-four percent of truck drivers are over the age of 45 with the average age of retirement in the industry at 62, according to As the veteran drivers begin to retire, who will pick up the slack? “It does take a unique and qualified individual that wants to live on the road to be gone 260, 280, 310 days out of the year, traveling across the state or traveling across the country,” Esparza says. “It's more of a dying breed than it was 20 years ago, 30 years ago.”

The trucking industry is not only a major player in the national economy but at the state level as well. In Mississippi, the industry contributes $4 billion in wages to Mississippi residents, as 1 out of 10 jobs in the state are in trucking, in some capacity, according to the Mississippi Business Journal.

Some states are working to shrink the shortages. Mississippi, for example, is lobbying to lower the barriers to entry for the job and to also expand training programs. For example, the state legislature recently passed a bill to aid veterans and active-duty National Guard members in beginning careers as truck drivers, according the Journal.

“We’re seeing a lot of investment in actual workforce development programs, and the state is doing an excellent job of funding these programs,” Miller said. “Most of the state’s community colleges offer a driving program, and they can be completed in short amounts of time and with minimal costs or student debt.”

“The shortage’s impact on the average citizen is big—really big,” Hal Miller, president of the Mississippi Trucking Association, said. “We got a little flavor of that during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your Walmarts and other stores were struggling to keep items on the shelves. Prices shot up. That’s how the shortage translates. We’ve gotten pretty accustomed to having enough stuff, and, without drivers, the supply chain is affected and rattled.”

Similarly, Tennessee relies heavily on the industry and thus is taking steps to offset the shortages. Tennessee governor Bill Lee said, “[W]e've worked hard to support the trucking industry in recent years to ensure that companies and Tennesseans have the resources needed to thrive by reducing burdensome regulations on the industry, increasing training opportunities, promoting collaboration between our state's (colleges) and the Department of Safety and businesses."

Efforts such as increasing weight limits out of port to enable the transportation of more goods at once, raising pay to entice drivers and experimenting with autonomous truck driving to cover less desirable routes are underway, as noted by Axios.