What Happened to Trucking Companies in 2019?

Semi-trucks parked at a truck stop

Last year was not kind to the trucking industry. Nearly 1,000 trucking companies closed their doors in 2019. We’re not just talking about small companies either. Every part of the trucking industry, all over the United States, is struggling. What’s the problem, and what can we do about it? That’s what we’re here to find out.

A Number of Factors

The problems affecting the trucking industry stem from many issues. Here are five challenges the trucking industry is facing right now:

1) A Shortage of Qualified Drivers
Truck driving isn’t considered a prestigious career. Schools are encouraging all young people to attend college and get specialized, high-salary tech jobs. As many truck drivers age and retire, trucking companies are scrambling to fill the ranks.

2) High Labor Cost
Any time there is a labor shortage, wages go up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for truck drivers is steadily increasing, making it more difficult for trucking companies to cover their labor costs.

3) Tariffs and Imports
Global trade is a major driver of trucking demand. U.S. government tariffs on Chinese imports, and China’s reciprocal tariffs on American goods, have had a significant effect on trade.

4) Increasing Overhead
Operating a truck is expensive. The prices for fuel, insurance, and maintenance are always going up. For many businesses, particularly small ones, the cost of operating trucks is becoming too great to bear.

5) Increasing Competition
Online retailers, particularly Amazon, are building fulfillment centers all over the country and hiring thousands of their own drivers to transport goods directly to their customers. These drivers don’t need any special training or a commercial driver’s license. Online retailers’ ultimate goal is to deliver packages by drone and eliminate the need for drivers and vehicles altogether.

It’s a difficult time for the trucking industry, but there is still hope for a bright future. Advancements like electric and driver-optional trucks promise to increase efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. The trucking companies who learn to adapt today will be the success stories of tomorrow.

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