Top Hiring Trends for Truck Drivers in 2021

by Josh Bays, on Nov 16, 2021 9:55:13 AM

With the recent concern over supply chain disruptions, especially going into the holiday season, it is more crucial than ever for the industrial sector to keep up with the demand for on-time and accurate delivery. However, this comes at a time when workforce challenges in the industrial sector are prevalent. Not only are warehouse operators struggling to find workers “inside the box,” the demand for truck drivers is outpacing supply.

In a quickly changing industrial landscape, it is 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. 

Tractor-trailer truck driver numbers on the rise

From 2010-2020, tractor-trailer occupations have seen very steady growth. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought on the first dip since 2009. Unfortunately, this came at a time when consumer behaviors exacerbated the national demand for these occupations.

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers

Truck Drivers Chart-01

Source: EMSI

Labor supply by the numbers

The total supply of key occupation types is often the starting point for accessing labor availability. The table below shows the top metro areas in 2020 by the presence of tractor-trailer drivers. While there was some slight reshuffling, the top five cities remain the same as last year. Memphis fell off the list, while Denver was added. Of the markets represented here, Nashville and Indianapolis have 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 70,325 10,055,329 0.70%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 64,900 4,467,955 1.45%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 60,756 5,124,549 1.19%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 53,897 6,955,998 0.77%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 52,110 3,981,451 1.31%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA 42,971 3,402,426 1.26%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 32,119 2,171,214 1.48%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 30,735 3,209,420 0.96%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 27,741 2,085,859 1.33%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 27,345 3,395,385 0.81%
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ 23,869 2,610,765 0.91%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 20,983 2,177,881 0.96%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 19,963 1,449,141 1.38%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN 19,307 1,111,019 1.74%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 19,067 3,826,851 0.50%
St. Louis, MO-IL 18,898 1,517,566 1.25%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 18,806 1,102,760 1.71%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 18,748 2,823,252 0.66%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 18,309 2,435,723 0.75%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 17,358 1,793,432 0.97%

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 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

MSA Name Demand: Postings as % of Jobs Average Monthly Job Postings # of Jobs
Peoria, IL 16.66% 256 1,536
Charleston, WV 15.68% 239 1,523
Terre Haute, IN 11.42% 124 1,085
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH 10.34% 197 1,903
Tuscaloosa, AL 9.67% 143 1,482
Topeka, KS 9.66% 146 1,513
Columbus, GA-AL 9.25% 127 1,373
Ottawa, IL 9.15% 162 1,767
Clarksville, TN-KY 8.82% 133 1,503
Pottsville, PA 8.53% 151 1,768

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

MSA Name Demand: Postings as % of Jobs Average Monthly Job Postings # of Jobs
Urban Honolulu, HI 0.21% 7 3,622
Midland, TX 0.57% 29 5,122
Laredo, TX 0.77% 35 4,578
Odessa, TX 0.80% 29 3,693
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 0.81% 221 27,345
Anchorage, AK 0.97% 13 1,339
Carlsbad-Artesia, NM 0.99% 17 1,677
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL 1.01% 83 8,172
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 1.10% 63 5,718
Lincoln, NE 1.23% 78 6,308

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

Topics:Distribution CentersEconomic IncentivesSite SelectionLocation Advisory



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