Trucking jobs reach an all-time high

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 6/12/2019

Just a few months after the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics debunked the driver shortage myth, a separate report from the U.S. Census Bureau adds to the evidence: Trucking employment is at an all-time high.

On June 6, the U.S. Census Bureau published a report that reveals the number of truck drivers is at an all-time high. According to the latest numbers, there were 711,000 trucking businesses in 2016, exceeding pre-recession highs.

More specifically, there were more than 124,000 employer trucking businesses and more than 587,000 nonemployer/self-employed trucking businesses. In 2007, self-employed trucking businesses hit nearly 543,000 before the recession sent that number downward before going back up in 2010. The recession low for self-employed trucking was 483,531 businesses in 2009.

Owner-operators and small fleets dominate the industry

Of the more than 2 million people who work in the truck transportation industry, approximately 1.5 million for one of the 124,000 employer businesses, with nearly 600,000 self-employed.

Self-employed trucking employees make up nearly 30% of the industry. Another 32% work for employer businesses with fewer than 50 employees. This means that more than half of the industry is either self-employed or work for smaller carriers.

Self-employed truckers make up the overwhelming majority of the 711,000 total trucking businesses, more than 80% of the industry. From there, businesses with nine or fewer employees make up another 14%. Businesses with 500 or more employees account for only a small fraction of 1% of the industry.

Although trucking jobs include a wide range of categories, more than half of all trucking businesses are classified as long-distance. Among the long-distance businesses, 88% are self-employed.

Trucking Businesses and Workers by Firm Size

Demographics

The report also provides details about the individuals driving trucks. The median age of a trucker is 46, compared with 41 for all workers.

Although most drivers are white males from rural areas, that trend is starting to change. Among younger drivers under 35, more are women, Hispanic and more educated than drivers 55 and older. More drivers under 35 are from urban areas, with the percentage of young truckers coming from rural areas about half that of older truckers.

Across all ages, truckers are less likely to be unemployed. Only 4.1% are unemployed compared to 5.3% for all workers. On the flip side, drivers are less likely to have health insurance. About 15% are uninsured, compared to 10% among all workers.

Truckers working full-time, throughout the year make approximately $43,252 a year. Although lower than the median income of all workers at $47,016, it is still more than most other blue-collar jobs.

However, those earnings are possibly less on a per-hour basis. Approximately half of truck drivers work longer hours than the standard 40 hours a week. Only a quarter of workers across all industries work more than 40 hours a week.

Truckers are more patriotic than many industries. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in 10 truckers are veterans, which is twice the rate of all workers. Truckers also outpace other occupations as a destination for veterans.

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