The Biden administration announced a plan on Thursday that they say will help alleviate the supply chain crisis by recruiting a new generation of truck drivers, as a trucker shortage threatens to worsen the supply chain crisis.
“Trucking plays a critical role in the U.S. supply chain and economy. America’s truck drivers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, delivering goods to every corner of this country,” the administration wrote in a fact sheet announcing the “Biden-Harris Administration Trucking Action Plan to Strengthen America’s Trucking Workforce.”
“Seventy-two percent of goods in America are shipped by truck, and in most communities, trucks are the only form of delivery. A strong, stable, and safe trucking workforce that offers good-paying jobs to millions of truck drivers is a critical lifeblood of our economy. But outdated infrastructure, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a historic volume of goods moving through our economy have strained capacity across the supply chain, including in trucking,” the administration said.
The administration noted that the trucking industry reported “historic demand” for its services and that because of such demand, “wages for employed drivers in all trucking segments have increased 7-12% in the last year alone, but employment in some segments is still below pre-pandemic levels.”
Multiple trucking groups have previously said the nation is short nearly 80,000 truck drivers.
“The Administration is taking action, and now we are asking industry, labor, and all levels of government to partner with us to address these trucking workforce challenges and begin building a next generation trucking workforce,” the administration said. “A stronger trucking workforce is one where trucking jobs are good, safe, and stable — jobs that employers can attract a new generation of drivers into while retaining existing drivers to deliver for clients and grow their businesses.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law creates a pathway to address these challenges in the long-term. Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing a set of concrete actions to address the expansion of trucking. These actions will support the ongoing economic recovery and lay the foundation for a next generation trucking workforce that will strengthen U.S. competitiveness and support millions of good driving jobs for years to come.”
The administration introduced several initiatives to help ease the trucker shortage:
- The Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will provide more than $30 million in funding to states to expedite the issuance of new Commercial Driver Licenses (CDLs). FMCSA will also send states guidelines on expediting the CDL process.
- The administration is kicking off a “90-day challenge” to expand and develop new Registered Apprenticeship training programs.
- The administration is reaching out to approximately 70,000 veterans with truck driving experience in the last five years.
- The Transportation and Labor Departments are launching the “Driving Good Jobs” initiative that will examine the best trucking practices and study issues within the trucking industry, and investigate potential regulations that would benefit truckers.
The administration’s new policy seems to neglect its own alleged role in the trucker shortage, however. Trucking groups wrote to the Biden administration in November that the vaccine mandate for private businesses, which has since been halted by a federal judge as a result of lawsuits brought by The Daily Wire and others, would cause the industry to lose approximately 37% of its workforce. The administration has also imposed a vaccine mandate for nonresident truckers crossing the border from Canada.