Top Hiring Trends for Truck Drivers in 2019

Josh Bays

Josh Bays | July 23, 2019

An increase in e-commerce activity and consumer buying patterns has had a profound impact on national supply chains. It is critical for the industrial sector to keep up with the demand for on-time and accurate delivery. Given the nationwide tight labor market, it is more important than ever for companies to thoroughly evaluate the regional workforce.

In a quickly changing industrial landscape, it is also important to have up-to-date information. Site Selection Group, a full-service location advisory, economic incentives and real estate services firm, helps distribution centers find the optimal locations for their projects by evaluating workforce, logistics efficiencies, business environment, infrastructure, facilities and economic incentives. Since our newsletter last year, the demand for tractor-trailer drivers has continued to grow. See the charts below to get the most up-to-date data available.

Tractor-trailer truck driver numbers on the rise

In 2017, tractor-trailer occupations reached pre-Great Recession levels and have continued to see steady growth, adding over 40,000 jobs in the past year. Since the lowest point in employment numbers following the recession in 2010, there has been roughly 24% growth in this sector. Based on recent project experience, as well as economic forecasts, this growth is likely to continue well into the future.

Heavy and Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers

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Source: EMSI

Labor supply by the numbers

Total supply of key occupation types is often the starting point for accessing labor availability. The table below shows the top metro areas in 2019 by presence of tractor-trailer drivers. While there was some slight reshuffling, the top five cities remain the same as last year. Kansas City fell off the list, while St. Louis was added. Of the markets represented here, Memphis has the highest concentration of tractor trailer drivers relative to the overall labor force.

Top Metro Areas by Total Number of Tractor Trailer Drivers

Metro Area Total Tractor Trailer Drivers Labor Force Drivers as % of LF
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 73,947 9,944,480 0.74%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 64,599 4,077,238 1.58%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 59,049 5,079,438 1.16%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 53,345 6,838,889 0.78%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 46,363 3,705,456 1.25%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA 40,583 3,215,504 1.26%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 30,902 3,284,088 0.94%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 30,519 2,066,994 1.48%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 29,523 3,147,943 0.94%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 26,839 2,060,057 1.30%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 21,572 2,093,734 1.03%
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ 21,563 2,408,055 0.90%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 20,238 2,687,517 0.75%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 20,110 1,051,851 1.91%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 19,852 1,349,628 1.47%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 18,885 2,239,312 0.84%
St. Louis, MO-IL 18,436 1,487,255 1.24%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 18,429 3,703,622 0.50%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN 18,227 1,026,196 1.78%
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 17,510 652,712 2.68%

Source: EMSI; MSAs with at least 500 tractor-trailer drivers

Assessing labor demand

Using jobs postings, Site Selection Group gathers a more complete view of labor availability. An area with high demand has a relatively larger number of postings relative to existing jobs. An ideal community will offer both a larger-than-average labor supply and a lower-than-average labor demand. The table below shows the areas with the highest demand for tractor-trailers drivers this year.

Metro Areas by High Demand for Tractor Trailer Drivers

Metro Area Demand: Postings as % of Jobs Average Monthly Job Postings # of Occupation
Peoria, IL 1782.33% 2,284 1,538
Terre Haute, IN 1183.71% 1,201 1,217
Charleston, WV 1098.08% 1,687 1,844
Ottawa, IL 1095.92% 1,660 1,818
Columbus, GA-AL 970.41% 928 1,147
Bloomington, IL 916.93% 791 1,035
Topeka, KS 910.05% 917 1,209
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH 895.72% 1,394 1,868
Pottsville, PA 894.60% 1,149 1,541
Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN 869.74% 962 1,327

Source: EMSI; MSAs with at least 1,000 tractor-trailer drivers

Likewise, Site Selection Group also identified those metro areas with the lowest demand for tractor-trailer drivers (see below). As a reminder, this demand metric alone doesn’t give a broad view of labor availability. It is merely an indicator of the overall workforce, but shouldn’t be used by itself.

Top Metro Areas by Low Demand for Tractor Trailer Drivers

Metro Area Demand: Postings as % of Jobs Average Monthly Job Postings # of Occupation
Urban Honolulu, HI 16.78% 43 3,057
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 46.72% 1,203 30,902
Midland, TX 53.07% 200 4,528
Anchorage, AK 56.32% 66 1,413
Odessa, TX 62.96% 205 3,909
Williston, ND 76.72% 102 1,593
Carlsbad-Artesia, NM 77.86% 94 1,455
Naples-Marco Island, FL 80.17% 71 1,069
El Paso, TX 82.43% 521 7,587
Hobbs, NM 82.95% 115 1,662

Source: EMSI; MSAs with at least 1,000 tractor-trailer drivers

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