COVID-19

There’s already a shortage of big-rig truck drivers, and the pandemic may make it worse

Jasmine Garsd Apr 10, 2020
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The global COVID-19 pandemic has only made it harder to fill a truck driver shortage. Scott Olson/Getty Images
COVID-19

There’s already a shortage of big-rig truck drivers, and the pandemic may make it worse

Jasmine Garsd Apr 10, 2020
The global COVID-19 pandemic has only made it harder to fill a truck driver shortage. Scott Olson/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

There’s a shortage of big-rig truck drivers in the U.S. The trucking industry needed tens of thousands of drivers even before the coronavirus hit.

And now, the industry’s worried that the pandemic is going to make that shortage even worse.

Dylan Francis, in Kansas City, Missouri, is ready to get out on the road. He has a job as a commercial truck driver waiting for him — once he gets his commercial driver’s license. 

But the DMV is closed indefinitely.

“I wanna be out there doing something,” Francis said. “This was supposed to be a means of not just resources for my family, but providing resources for my country.”

DMVs are shut down in 27 states. And that’s not the only holdup for the trucking industry. Commercial driver training schools are also shut down. 

Don Lefeve, CEO of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, said he’s worried that when recovery efforts start, truck drivers will be needed more than ever. And there’s a big backup when it comes to training new drivers.

“You don’t flick a light switch and produce a driver overnight,” he said. “We’re talking upwards of three months to get a driver trained.”

That’s just for a basic commercial license. Some drivers require additional training. Andrew Novakovic teaches agricultural economics at Cornell University. 

“In some aspects of general freight, one driver can go in and out of a truck, and if you got a CDL and it’s the right class, you’re in business,” Novakovic said. “But in certain parts of the food industry, it’s not so straightforward.”

The Commercial Vehicle Training Association, along with several major trucking associations, has sent a letter to governors asking them to declare driving schools and DMVs essential services and reopen them. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

The latest: President Donald Trump signed an executive action directing $400 extra a week in unemployment benefits. But will that aid actually reach people? It’s still unclear. Trump directed federal agencies to send $300 dollars in weekly aid, taken from the federal disaster relief fund, and called on states to provide an additional $100. But states’ budgets are stretched thin as it is.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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