7.8 million full-time workers in America are employed by the trucking industry, according to the American Trucking Association. This represents about 5.8 percent of the total full-time workforce in America, which shows just how vast the trucking industry is. Truck driving is one of the toughest jobs there is, but it remains one of the most important in the country. Economists sometimes use trucking statistics to judge a country’s economic health. If the trucks are moving more freight, it means that Americans are more productive and making more money. While the trucking industry is decades old now, it remains dynamic, with the ever-growing demand from consumers keeping the trucking industry as vital to the American economy as ever. There are various facts you might not know about the American Trucking industry.
1. The US trucking industry earns revenues higher than the GDP of most countries
In 2017, the American Trucking industry generated over $700 billion, which was more than the GDP of over 150 nations. If the trucking industry was a state, it would have ranked 33rd in GDP that year. This can be attributed to the fact that trucks move more than 10 billion tons of freight across the US each year, which equates to approximately 30 pounds worth of goods for every person in America. Trucking accounts for 71 percent of the tonnage moved in the US, which surpasses trains, boats, and planes by far.
2. The average truck driver’s profile
The average truck driver is 49 years old, earning approximately $43,680 per year. He/she works for 70 hours per week, followed by a mandatory day off. Depending on where a trucker works, he/she is paid by the hour or by the mile. Most truck drivers only make enough to afford a middle-class lifestyle, but they have opportunities to increase their pay by driving for top paying companies and getting CDL endorsements. Many truckers prefer owning big personal vehicles such as pick up trucks or SUVs, but they don’t get much time to drive them.
3. Trucking requires expertise
Many people perceive truck driving as a dead-end, zero status job. However, this is not the case, as trucking is a job that takes a lot of time and commitment to even be qualified to do. For instance, driving a tanker trailer requires a disciplined approach due to the dangers and challenges of the cargo. You have to know how to operate hydraulic pumps and compressors and how to work different valves to control pressure in the tanks, among other complex tasks. It also takes a lot of skill to navigate a huge truck around the road systems without damaging anything on the road or the truck.
4. The turnover rate is high
The annual turnover rate for truck drivers is 88 percent, according to the American Trucking Association. Being a truck driver can be lonely, alienating and unrewarding job. You spend most of your time in a cabin, and only get to meet people for minutes when doing pickups and deliveries. The industry operates on razor-thin margins with many fixed costs that can have you running for the hills. You also need a lot of patience as a truck driver, both while on the road, and when dealing with clients, dispatchers, administration staff, and other people you come across. Drivers can get frustrated by mistakes, delays, and changes in plans by the people who operate the bigger picture, which is why patience is vital.
5. Technology is taking over
Trucks have become a lot easier to drive, thanks to modern technology. Most trucks now have an automatic transmission which saves drivers from having to change gears hundreds of times per day. They also have ergonomic seats that are more comfortable and are built like mini-apartments with outlets that can accommodate small appliances like microwaves, refrigerators and cooking gear. Trucking is expected to transform radically in the coming years, with autonomous technologies already being tested on American roads.
Trucking is a vital industry that has an impact on almost everything. Being a truck driver requires a lot of commitment and sacrifice, but it is a career with minimal entry requirements that can provide you with a good salary you can bank on.