Truckers need to be paid more to combat shortage, Buttigieg says

Behind The Wheel: Truck Week

(NewsNation) — Truck drivers must be paid more to combat the burgeoning shortage of truck drivers in the U.S., Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Friday.

“If we want more people to stay in this job we’ve got to make sure they’re treated and paid accordingly,” he told NewsNation’s Nichole Berlie on “Rush Hour.”

The driver turnover rate at large fleets was almost 90% in March 2021, according to the American Trucking Association. Now, the trucking industry is short about 80,000 drivers.

In December, the White House unveiled its “Trucking Action Plan” as part of an effort to expand and improve jobs in a trucking industry that has been plagued by high turnover and labor shortages.

The transportation secretary pointed to costly detention time (time spent at a loading dock in excess of two hours) and a lack of overnight parking spaces as aspects of the job that must be improved.

That could mean re-imagining how truck drivers are paid. Right now, most truckers are paid by the mile or by the load, which means time spent waiting at a loading dock is usually money lost.

“Nobody pays for wasting a truck driver’s time except the driver themself,” Buttigieg said. “We do need to look at these compensation issues and that’s something that I’m doing.”

2018 report from the Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s office found detention time costs for-hire truck drivers between $1.1 to $1.3 billion a year. That reduces the average driver’s annual earnings between $1,281 and $1,534 each year.

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