Why Is the Transportation Industry Struggling to Hire?

The transportation industry is struggling to keep up with demand due to a massive labor shortage. Most people know that there’s a shortage of truck drivers, but there are also shortages in a variety of other positions, including mechanics, technicians, salespeople, and warehouse staff. There are millions of job openings in the U.S. and Canada for positions like these – and demand isn’t likely to fall anytime soon.

But why is this the case? And when will this momentum shift?

X Reasons the Transportation Industry Struggles to Hire Enough People

The General Labor Shortage

There are currently 50 percent more job openings now than at any time period before the COVID-19 pandemic. Note that this is a rise across the board; while the transportation industry is especially afflicted with a labor shortage, businesses of all shapes and sizes are experiencing strain.

What’s the explanation for this?

Retiring workers

The United States and Canada, like many developed countries, are both facing an aging population. Thanks to medical and scientific breakthroughs, people are able to live longer, and due to a variety of cultural factors, people are having fewer children. As an end result, more people are retiring, the workforce isn’t growing, and people are remaining in retirement for a longer period of time. The combined force of all these effects means there are fewer people available to apply for jobs.

Increased demand for goods and services

On the other end of the spectrum, we have increased demand for goods and services. The West has always had a consumerist culture, driven by material demand, and that demand has only increased in recent years. People are buying products and paying for services more than ever before, which means there’s more demand for people to provide those products and services.

Unemployment benefits

It’s also worth mentioning that unemployment benefits increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing extended benefits to anyone without a job. Because of this, people grew accustomed to the reality of not working, and became reluctant to rejoin the workforce even when those benefits subsided.

Stress and burnout

Unfortunately, many companies in the United States and Canada have an organizational culture that promotes working excessive hours and pushing yourself to the absolute limit. More people in mainstream careers are suffering from too much stress and eventual burnout; accordingly, people are leaving their stressful jobs in droves and they’re reluctant to pursue a new career to replace it.

Slowing immigration

New immigrant arrivals are precipitously falling. Historically, the U.S. and Canada have benefited from immigration; waves of new immigrants mean plenty of people to take on new jobs, come up with new ideas, and help drive the economy forward. Now that immigration momentum has slowed, there are fewer people available to apply for open positions and fewer people to create new businesses.

Pickier applicants

We also need to note that modern job applicants are pickier than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic helped to normalize and promote businesses that operate remotely and with greater flexibility for their employees. It makes sense that more job applicants are hunting specifically for positions that allow them to work remotely and flexibly – while completely ignoring other opportunities.

The Transportation Industry

The transportation industry is feeling even more pain from the labor shortage for a variety of reasons, including:

Increased transportation needs

With more people staying at home and working remotely, transportation needs have increased. Online stores and delivery services are thriving, but they need active fleet vehicles in order to meet demand. While this represents increased revenue for transportation industry companies, it also represents demand for more people.

 Fewer skilled workers

In the modern age, skilled trade workers are becoming rarer. People would rather go to college and pursue a liberal arts degree, or something similar, rather than go to a trade school and master a specific craft. With fewer people with mechanical and technical skills in the labor market, there are fewer people capable of filling necessary roles.

Demand for remote and flexible jobs

Remember that more applicants are seeking remote and flexible jobs – but these types of jobs are rare in the transportation industry. Vehicles need to be physically driven from one location to another, and you can’t conduct maintenance on those vehicles remotely.

What Does the Future Hold?

Where does the labor shortage go from here? And will the transportation industry be able to meet its hiring quotas in the next few years?

It’s hard to predict the future, but we know there are many different interrelated factors responsible for this labor shortage. Accordingly, we shouldn’t anticipate the labor shortage disappearing or declining anytime soon. It’s going to take several years for our economy to adjust to these new economic conditions, and we’re going to need solutions for many different problems before we’re able to move forward. 

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a job, now is the perfect time to get involved in the transportation industry.

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