Trucker shortage continues to impact Birmingham businesses

Local News
Christmas Day
December 25 2021 12:00 am

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Supply chain disruptions are being heightened by an ongoing shortage of truck drivers. The American Trucking Association says it’s down about 80,000 drivers right now, a record high. This is a trend seen right here in the state of Alabama.

Ross Neely Systems has been in Birmingham for over 60 years. The president says the opportunity to make a profit is out there, but his company is not able to take advantage of it because they don’t have enough help.

Trucking companies were already dealing with a shortage of workers prior to the pandemic and it’s only gotten worse.

“While there’s a supply and demand issue with products right now in the grocery store, there’s also a supply and demand issue with drivers, we have several empty trucks we’re trying to fill now and all our competitors are in the same boat so we’re really struggling to find help right now,” said Tommy Neely, President of Ross Neely Systems Inc.

The trucking company runs around 50 trucks but is in desperate need of 8 new drivers.

“It’s better than what it was a month ago, but we went through a three or four month span where we couldn’t hire anyone. We’ve got ads running everywhere like our competitors do, we’re all in the same boat trying to find help. But there’s just not a big pull of drivers to choose from, people are not choosing it as a career,” said Neely.

It’s an issue felt across the state. The Alabama Trucking Association estimates needing to replace between 3,000-5,000 truckers state-wide over the next few years.

“Alabama is a top 10 state for trucking, most people don’t know that there are 1,200 jobs in the state of Alabama, that’s incredible, that’s 1 in 15 jobs in our state. There are over 1,200 trucking jobs in Alabama and they move everything in our state 86% of goods in our community is brought to you by a trucker,” said Mark Colson, President of the Alabama Trucking Association.

In an effort to keep and retain a stable trucking workforce, bonuses have been added, pay has increased and options for a flexible schedule.

“Great way to make a living for your family being a truck driver or the many other job professions in the industry. So, they are available, they pay good and it’s a great way to take care of your family,” said Colson.

“These drivers value their home time more than anything else and they want to be home so they are working around that, so these guys that are coming into the industry they are getting home a lot more,” said Neely.

Neely says the industry is gearing its efforts towards recruiting younger generations in high school to help put them on path to a career in trucking.

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