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Trucker shortage having impact on local, national, global economies

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 3:46 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - If you’ve noticed gas prices going up or the grocery store out of certain goods, it could be due to delays from truck deliveries because of truck driver shortages. Those within the industry say this is a national issue.

If there aren’t enough qualified drivers to distribute oil and gas, chemicals or a wide range of products you expect to see on store shelves, shortages and price hikes follow. Those who spoke with Eyewitness News encourage people looking to start a career or transition to a new one to look into truck driving.

Groendyke Transport Talent Office Vice President Holly McCormick said there was already a truck driver shortage before the pandemic. That shortage has expanded to a 20 to 25 percent decrease in drivers.

“And so that’s causing issues with hauling products that everybody needs,” McCormick said. “And we’re talking, especially in the tank segment, everything from fuel to chemicals to household goods, building supplies, manufacturing, all of that.”

Kansas Truck Driving School Facility Manager Ann Bauza said the tight driver pool directly correlates to rising costs across the board.

McCormick said it’s a real issue with a widespread impact.

“It’s easy to see it from a fuel standpoint. If we’re not getting fuel to stores, then obviously people can’t go anywhere,” she said. “But if we’re not getting goods and products held to shippers for building materials for manufacturers then that begins to create a snowball effect for the economy nationwide.”

Bauza said the Kansas Truck Driving School had to temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to the truck driver shortage. The school is open again and Bauza said if you’re searching for a new job, now is the time to apply to drive a truck.

“Now is actually a really good time to get into the industry. No pun intended, but the drivers are really in the driver seat,” she said. “So, the driver pay is going up, the perks that they’re getting, the equipment that they’re driving in... it just keeps getting better and better for the new drivers.”

McCormick and Bauza said new drivers start making upward of $70,000 per year. You can find more information on signing up for the Kansas Truck Driving School on its website. Bauza said training takes about three weeks.

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