With holiday shopping season here, the nationwide truck driver shortage — which has been further amplified by worldwide supply chain challenges and the ongoing pandemic — could mean online shoppers may want to click the checkout button on their orders sooner rather than later.
“We’ve been spoiled prior to the pandemic of placing an order today and receiving it in 24 hours,” said Neal Kedzie, president of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association. “That is not a reasonable expectation at the current time. I think we have to be more realistic on what we expect.”
Like many industries in Wisconsin, workforce challenges in trucking were present long before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. However, many in the aging trucking workforce — the average truck driver is 49 years old — retired early due to public health concerns, while the pandemic also stymied new talent entering the field through the temporary closure of many commercial license schools, Kedzie said.
“On the back end we had retiring drivers, and on the front end we had a bottleneck created by the pandemic for new drivers coming into the workforce,” he said.
Supply chain challenges have further exacerbated industry woes, with carriers unable to move product piling up in warehouses. To make matters worse, the industry is facing a shortage of trucks as well due in part to the worldwide shortage of microchips, which are a key component in commercial trucks.