Even before the global pandemic affected pretty much everything about life as we knew it, the U.S. trucking industry was in crisis. An aging workforce quickly became a diminishing work force, as the industry struggled to hire new drivers at a pace commensurate with retiring truckers. Climate change played a significant role pre-pandemic, with erratic and extreme weather events happening with more frequency across the country. Not only has the last year seen those circumstances exacerbated – particularly with regard to more frequent and severe weather events – but the pandemic crippled an already challenged infrastructure.
As we’ve been quarantining, isolating, and working/learning from home, our dependency on truck-delivered goods has reached a staggering level. ALL carriers have been and continue to be affected. High demand and low workforce have resulted in a spate of embargoes that delay and, in some cases, negate delivery. And, the availability of products and raw goods, whether produced state-side or imported – are also being impacted by COVID – business closures abound, unprecedented maritime port blockages and insufficient labor to receive and process containers continue. Simply put, supply and distribution are in crisis mode.
It’s no surprise then that this scenario significantly affects the publishing community. The volatility of the paper market due to COVID-related factors continues to create supply challenges. And, the most critical piece of the publishing equation – actually delivering the publication – is still facing very real headwinds.
So what is being done? As our nation and our economy begin to rebuild and recover from this monstrous pandemic, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association Chris Spear petitioned the Senate with an impassioned charge to address the issues plaguing the trucking industry. As a result, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has unveiled a bill to grow and strengthen the trucking industry’s workforce, and bolster its crumbling infrastructure.
The current administration has committed to rebuilding the nation’s network of roads, bridges, and airports.
And trucking companies and major carriers – like so many other businesses now – are going to extreme lengths to entice new hires: lucrative incentives and signing bonuses, wage hikes, and better benefits and perks are being offered across the country.
As America recovers, so too will the trucking industry. And that’s a very good thing for all concerned.