Truck driver shortage continues to impact Birmingham businesses

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WIAT) – Supply chain disruptions are compounded by a continuing shortage of truck drivers. The American Trucking Association says it has dropped about 80,000 drivers at the moment, a record. 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 there, but his business is not able to take advantage of it because it does not have enough help.

Trucking companies were already facing a shortage of workers before the pandemic and it only got worse.

“Although there is a supply and demand problem with the products right now in the grocery store, there is also a supply and demand problem with the drivers, we have several empty trucks that we are trying. to complete now and all of our competitors are in the same boat so we are really struggling to find help right now, ”said Tommy Neely, president of Ross Neely Systems Inc.

The trucking company operates about 50 trucks but is in desperate need of 8 new drivers.

“It’s better than a month ago, but we went through a three or four month period where we couldn’t hire anyone. We have ads everywhere like our competitors are, we are all in the same boat trying to find help. But there just aren’t a lot of drivers to choose from, people don’t choose it as a career, ”said Neely.

It is a problem felt statewide. The Alabama Trucking Association estimates that between 3,000 and 5,000 truckers will need to be replaced statewide in the next few years.

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

In an effort to maintain and retain a stable trucking workforce, bonuses were added, pay increased, and options for flexible hours.

“A great way to earn a living for your family as a truck driver or in the many other occupations in the industry. So they’re available, they pay well, and it’s a great way to take care of your family, ”Colson said.

“These drivers value their time at home more than anything else and they want to be home so they work around that, so these guys who come into the industry come home a lot more,” Neely said.

Neely says the industry is focusing its efforts on recruiting younger generations in high school to help them move into a career in trucking.

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