Mexico-US Faces Drivers’ Deficit Amid Supply Chain Crisis
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Mexico-US Faces Drivers’ Deficit Amid Supply Chain Crisis

Photo by:   Aleksandar Little Wolf, Freepik
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Pamela Benítez By Pamela Benítez | Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 11/25/2021 - 09:38

Amid a commercial supply chain crisis, Mexico and the US are facing a 50,000 to 80,000 truck driver shortage due to a lack of qualified truckers, road safety concerns, harsh working conditions and posing health risks, causing a drop in companies’ investments and growth plans.

Trucking associations and experts from both countries have reported a labor shortage within the land transportation sector, and because there are not enough truckers to haul goods out of congested ports during the current global supply chain crisis, they report this situation is causing much economic damage.

The driver shortage in Mexico is estimated to be approximately 50,000 according to data collected by the National Chamber of Freight Transportation (CANACAR), however, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) reports a shortfall at 87,500 drivers, the equivalent to a 175 percent deficit growth during 2021.

In the US, the shortage has increased to 80,000 drivers reaching an all-time high with an estimate of 100,000 by 2023, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA).

The IRU identified that the truck-driver scarcity in Mexico is due to a lack of trained truckers, harsh working conditions, migration to the US and a decrease in driver talent. Meanwhile, CANACAR has added that road insecurity and health risks such as obesity, high blood pressure and drug consumption needed to fulfill physical demands, are important factors that contribute to the truck-driver deficit as well.

Due to this decrease, wages have gone up in both countries. In Mexico, the increase is concentrated mainly in the northern states where drivers can earn up to US$4,800. Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, truckers in the US could earn up to US$2,340 per month and $86,000 per year. In the US private fleet truckers are now earning around US$100,000 a year including a signing bonus.

“With the pandemic and the saturation in ports, the salaries of drivers have increased around 20 percent. The northern states of Mexico are where salaries have increased exorbitantly and where companies suffer most from the flight of drivers to the US,” said Carlos Canseco, Head of Logistics, Cilqro.

However, Quartz experts argue that there is no shortage in the transportation sector but a lack of “good trucking jobs” as a shortfall of truckers has been reported by the ATA for the past 16 years. According to Quartz, drivers find better job opportunities with healthier working conditions and higher pay in factories, construction sites and warehouses. These jobs do not require a 70-hour shift per week, sleeping in parking lots, or attending congested ports with insufficient infrastructure for haul truck drivers, especially for those who do long-haul routes to pick up containers.

The issue, according to experts, is the little retention of workers. The ATA reported that the annual turnover of drivers is 94 percent for big US trucking companies, this means having to fill almost every driver position every year.

“This is a job where we do not have set hours, we are away from home for long periods and we do not always receive the treatment we deserve despite the importance of our work. Sometimes that bad treatment comes from employers and their clients,” said Rocio Hernández, a 10-year experienced trucker in the industry.

Although increasing driver pay is an important solution to solve the trucking industry shortage, more competitive wages, better working conditions and infrastructure improvements, are crucial to a trucking company’s retention, according to Quartz’ experts.

Photo by:   Aleksandar Little Wolf, Freepik

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