Driver shortage forces haulers to lift pay, perks to woo workers

From the Hartford Business Journal:

Ansonia trucking-company operator John Pruchnicki uses nearly every tool in his kit to recruit and retain some of Connecticut’s 57,000 or so commercially licensed truck drivers to his payroll.

Many of the semis in Pruchnicki’s Coastal Carriers of Connecticut fleet are equipped with the same safety features and ergonomics found in today’s cars — automatic transmissions, power steering, stability and adaptive cruise controls, and anti-lock brakes. His drivers also collect good pay, benefits, even performance incentives, as well as the opportunity to finish their workday and sleep in their own beds — something coveted among haulers forced to drive nights and weekends.

Yet, despite relatively good pay and working conditions, finding and keeping truck drivers is back to being as difficult as it has ever been, Pruchnicki and other truck-industry observers say. Tightened state and federal compliance obligations on trucking companies and drivers, plus increased competition in a revived economy for talent and consumers’ mounting appetites for speedy delivery of goods ordered online, have exacerbated the trend. Trucker demographics, too, are a factor.

“The truck-driver shortage is real,” said Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC). “Trucking companies just cannot find candidates.”

Ask any trucking-company operator or driver-training school, and they’ll tell you that, even with 3.5 million licensed truckers on U.S. roads, drivers always are in short supply. But the intensity of the shortage oscillates, particularly in tune with the economy, said Robert Costello, economist with the American Trucking Associations (ATA), to which MTAC belongs.

Currently the shortages appear to be the worst ever, experts say.

See the full story from the Hartford Business Journal.