LOUISVILLE, Tenn. — Empty store shelves, shortages and higher prices have been major parts of the U.S. economy. Taylor Stone, the Director of the Tennessee Truck Driving School, said those shortages and empty shelves have shown the importance of truckers.
"Everything you touch has come or has been in a truck at some point," Stone said.
She said companies have noticed the value of truckers, and that's why they're compensating them more. Stone said truckers can make on average $200 more per week than they did before the pandemic. That equates to between $900 and $1,000 per week for people driving trucks.
"They are offering more money than ever," Stone said. "Increasing their cents per mile, and they're increasing their benefits, they're hoping that this will keep them in place in order to keep our shelves stocked."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said around 20,000 more people started driving trucks professionally between April and June of this year. Observers say it's one of the highest jumps in the last 25 years.
However, the American Trucking Association said there's still a shortage of about 80,000 drivers and that's expected to balloon to 160,000 by 2030.
"There are a lot of companies that we work with that are very consistent with freight, who are actually having to turn away work," Stone said.
Stone said anybody can become a truck driver. They just have to learn about operating one safely, their legal responsibilities, and other major parts of the job.
"It doesn't take a lonely person. It's something that everyone can do," Stone said.
She said companies also now offer two-person cabs, so trucks can constantly be driving.