Transportation has had a slew of negative effects on supply chains over the last two years. Between the infamous toilet paper shortage of 2020, the microchip shortage of today, and lumber shortages, transportation has had its issues when trying to support the supply chains that we all rely on.
Why exactly is this? Why does it seem that supply chains are continuously disrupted?
Well, when talking about transportation one issue continues to come to mind – labor shortages. No matter what industry you’re in we’ve all seen it, empty offices, “Help Wanted” signs, and surprisingly, fewer trucks on the road.
Labor shortages in transportation continue to run rampant for a few reasons. Age disparity, blue-collar jobs, and unemployment are all key players that contribute to the labor shortage in the transportation industry, ultimately affecting your supply chain.
Age Gap in Transportation
Currently, the transportation industry is experiencing an inverted “population pyramid” in its labor. Although alliteration can be fun, this time it’s definitely not. A large percentage of the transportation industry’s labor force is coming from people aged 45 and up.
Though having experienced truck drivers is definitely not a bad thing, not having younger truck drivers can quickly turn into a negative. As the vast majority of truck drivers age, many are starting to retire or seek other, less demanding, work. That poses a significant problem for the transportation industry, and the supply chain as a whole.
Industries with a more balanced age distribution in their labor force can count on the fact that as their employees retire, their younger employees will continue to gain experience and fill the gap left by the retired ones. Today in transportation, this simply isn’t the case. There aren’t nearly enough young folks ready to take the jobs of older generations.
The question remains, where are the young people going?
Blue Collar Jobs Galore
The populace that the transportation industry used to rely on simply isn’t applying to drive. Rather, these men and women are looking at blue-collar jobs in warehouses, factories, plants, and more. The main reason people are continuing to leave and pursue other industries is because of the lack of benefits and a poor work-life balance.
A good road trip can be therapeutic, calming, and good for the soul, but not necessarily day-in and day-out. Younger generations are prioritizing time with their family and friends, rather than the long hours of trucking. The transportation industry is beginning to adapt to these needs by offering shorter in-state delivery routes, increased benefits, and improved systems within the trucks.
As working conditions improve, it’s suspected that younger people may go back to trucking in the near future, but that doesn’t solve any immediate supply chain issues. Other than the fact that younger workers are picking blue-collar jobs, another problem remains – pandemic unemployment.
Unemployment and the Supply Chain
Unemployment programs continue to curb the amount of labor available for all industries, but not for long. Recently, the federal government has said that the federal unemployment program enacted in 2020, which has offered substantial pay and benefits, will be discontinued in September of 2021.
This comes at the end of an unprecedented run of federal unemployment brought on by the pandemic. Many businesses, both in and out of the transportation industry, are looking forward to these programs closing. Lots of open jobs, which have crippled transportation and the supply chain in a broader sense, have been competing with these robust unemployment programs over the last two years.
The end of these programs will see millions of people reenter the workforce, hopefully going into transportation where they are desperately needed.
It’s Almost Over, Hopefully
Between a growing age gap in its workers, younger workers applying for other jobs, and pandemic unemployment programs, the transportation industry has certainly faced some uncertainty. Hopefully, with the end of unemployment programs and the bettering of work conditions across the nation, the transportation industry and the supply chain will return to a happy and healthy state.