The United States is running out of truck drivers, raising the prospect of delayed shipments and higher costs for getting goods to market. This isn’t new; the truck driver shortage has been growing for years. But economists now think it is having a real impact on the economy.

According to Bloomberg columnist Conor Sen:

  • The level of employment in the truck transportation industry is essentially unchanged since 2015;
  • Companies have cited freight constraints in their fourth-quarter earnings calls as being responsible for higher operating costs and lower profit margins;
  • The electronic logging device mandate likely will reduce the number of available drivers; and
  • The prospect of driverless vehicles makes people less likely to pursue trucking as a career.

While plenty of industry sectors are experiencing labor shortages, the lack of truck drivers is especially worrisome because of the important role transportation plays in the economy.

“The trucking industry is unique because it’s the lifeblood of moving goods around the country, representing 70 percent of the nation’s freight volume by weight,” Sen writes. “Without enough trucks and drivers on the road, some combination of things is going to happen: Shipments will be delayed, and producers will have to pay higher prices to get goods to market.”

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