Legal immigrants – Could they help solve the Truck Driver shortage?

caravan of trucks on road

The word “paradox” comes to my mind when I think about the ongoing driver shortage facing the trucking industry. The word means a statement or proposition that, despite sound reasoning, leads to a conclusion that seems self-contradictory.

Comedian George Carlin had his own amusing definition of paradox…”If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?

Statistically, most truck drivers are republican. To a large extent, they have supported President Trump’s commitments to end the negative repercussions of major free-trade deals like NAFTA and—perhaps his most famous pledge—to put a resounding end to so-called illegal immigration.

And, therein lies the paradox.

The very real truck driver shortage is making the economy quite nervous. The demographics of the typical driver today reflects a 56-year-old white man (nearing retirement).  That does not bode well for an industry starving for new drivers. Throw in the added dilemma of a millennial population that generally finds the occupation as unattractive and you’ve got the perfect storm for long term driver shortages.

The paradox is that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the largest groups to step up to fill the void are America’s immigrant population.

American truck drivers are increasingly diverse.

Currently, nearly 50% of truckers in California are foreign-born.  New Jersey is close behind with 40% of drivers foreign-born. Throughout the entire United States, nearly 30% of foreign-born drivers are now from Asia, the Middle East, the former Soviet republics and Europe. Overall, the largest share of immigrants in the American commercial trucking industry (32%) comes from Mexico. Recent, legal immigrants are a welcome infusion of new drivers. “The trucking industry is searching for people,” says Justin Lowery, who studies the role of immigrants in US trucking at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.  Lowery says there is an “aging out” of drivers and recent immigrants, willing to work long hours, are filling some of the gaps.

Immigrant truckers are fulfilling the promise of increased diversity in the industry.

The industry has struggled to hire more women drivers. At the present time, only about 7% of drivers nationwide are female. The meager gains in women drivers are touted publicly when they occur. But, don’t forget that diversity also includes drivers from other cultures. In addition to stepping up efforts to hire more female drivers, trucking companies would be wise to focus on the large and willing market of legal immigrants to fill their ranks of drivers.

At DriverSource, there’s no paradox in our support of diversity in trucking. As a minority-owned company, we recognize the benefits of more women and a multi-cultural family of drivers.  And, our nationwide network of companies looking for drivers makes it easy to find a job matching your requirements.

Bill D for DriverSource