Transport Capital Partners publishes a Business Expectation Survey every quarter that takes a pulse on trends in the trucking industry. Trucking executives from across the country are
interviewed on topics such as rate trends, future volume expectations, and interest in buying or selling firms in the future. The 19-page document is packed with insights about the industry. [When this document is available to share, we'll post a link.]
One thing that stood out to us right away is that since February of this year, the general outlook of many carriers has dropped – the percentage of those expecting their business volume to increase in the next 12 months dropped from 92% to 45% in August. This is a huge drop in confidence levels.
One of the growing trends in the industry that contributes to diminished business volume is the capacity to handle it - especially a shortage of good, reliable drivers. The wicked problem of driver recruiting has been looming over many in the industry for some time. The survey confirmed what most already know: almost 70% of the carriers are experiencing driver shortage to some extent, with the majority dealing with 1-5% of their trucks unseated.
Until carriers can fill their trucks with drivers, they are going to continue to struggle to grow their business. They can’t take on new accounts if they don’t have the drivers to service them.
The authors of the Business Expectation Survey cite three possibilities for the root cause behind the driver shortage:
1) There is a base rate of systemic unseated trucks
2) Potential drivers are taking advantage of extended unemployment benefits
3) Driver wages are too low