Top Workforce Trends for Truck Drivers

by Allison Boden, on Jun 25, 2021 9:52:56 AM

A sharp increase in e-commerce activity and consumer buying patterns has had a profound impact on national supply chains. This trend was exacerbated by the effects that COVID-19 had on consumer buying patterns. This unprecedented activity and demand for on-time delivery also came at a time when the labor market was consistently tight across the nation.

In this quickly changing landscape, it is important for distribution center operators to have up-to-date workforce information. Site Selection Group, a full-service location advisory, economic incentive 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. Often, we find our clients focused on evaluating the supply and demand for warehouse workers but stopping short of assessing the talent for truck-drivers.

Site Selection Group tracks a variety of metrics to keep a pulse on the truck driver market. Since our similar newsletter last year, the demand for tractor-trailer drivers has continued to grow.

Tractor-trailer truck driver numbers on the rise

Since a slight dip in 2016, tractor-trailer occupations have continued to see steady growth, adding over 40,000 jobs in the past year. Over the past 10 years, there has been a roughly 21.3% 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

Truck-Drivers-Chart-01Source: 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 20 metro areas over the past year by presence of tractor-trailer drivers. Nashville, Tennessee, and Indianapolis, Indiana, have the greatest concentration of truck drivers relative to labor force.

Top Metro Areas by Total Number of Tractor Trailer Drivers

Metro Area Total Tractor Trailer Drivers Labor Force Truck Drivers as % of LF
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 71,424 10,055,329 0.70%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 64,802 4,467,955 1.50%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 61,418 5,124,549 1.20%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 54,645 6,955,998 0.80%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 52,307 3,981,451 1.30%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA 43,141 3,402,426 1.30%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 32,171 2,171,214 1.50%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 30,997 3,209,420 1.00%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 28,040 2,085,859 1.30%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 27,549 3,395,385 0.80%
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ 23,832 2,610,765 0.90%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 21,194 2,177,881 1.00%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 19,870 1,449,141 1.40%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN 19,309 1,111,019 1.70%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 19,183 3,826,851 0.50%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 19,039 2,823,252 0.70%
St. Louis, MO-IL 19,001 1,517,566 1.30%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 18,848 1,102,760 1.70%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 18,480 2,435,723 0.80%

Source: EMSI; Top 20 MSAs for count of tractor-trailer drivers

Assessing labor demand

Using job 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

Metro Area Postings as % of Jobs Average Monthly Job Postings Total Tractor Trailer Drivers
Peoria, IL 219.80% 3,416 1,554
Charleston, WV 193.50% 2,991 1,546
Terre Haute, IN 156.30% 1,695 1,084
Ottawa, IL 135.50% 2,428 1,792
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH 122.30% 2,335 1,909
Tuscaloosa, AL 117.80% 1,764 1,497
Pottsville, PA 111.20% 1,981 1,781
Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN 106.30% 1,554 1,461
Columbus, GA-AL 104.80% 1,460 1,394
East Stroudsburg, PA 104.40% 1,083 1,037

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 Postings as % of Jobs Average Monthly Job Postings Total Tractor Trailer Drivers
Urban Honolulu, HI 3.10% 116 3,737
Midland, TX 6.50% 341 5,272
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 7.30% 2,018 27,549
Odessa, TX 8.90% 341 3,819
Carlsbad-Artesia, NM 9.80% 168 1,714
El Paso, TX 10.50% 902 8,554
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL 11.20% 906 8,085
Stockton, CA 12.90% 1,196 9,304
Anchorage, AK 13.00% 176 1,356
Laredo, TX 13.30% 611 4,598

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

Topics:Distribution CentersEconomic IncentivesSite SelectionLocation Advisory



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