TAMPA, Fla. - If you're looking for a job, you should know the trucking industry is desperate for drivers right now. The need is so dire a shortage of tanker-truck drivers could have some gas stations running on empty this summer.
The trucking industry is hitting major roadblocks as companies struggle to find drivers to put behind the wheel.
"Demand suddenly shifted upward and supply was tightened, but then you have other factors like drivers retiring early," Roadmaster Driving School president Brad Ball said.
Ball explains the pandemic brought on multiple problems. Because more people are at home, online retailers like Amazon saw a boom in e-commerce shipping. Also, the average age of American truck drivers is about 50 years old, which is an at-risk group for COVID-19, leading some to retire early.
"You had a perfect storm of supply and demand working against each other. I haven't had as many people contact us to try and hire our drivers. It's been a year since I've seen it this bad," Ball said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Roadmaster Driving School in Tampa has only been able to accept about 60% of its normal class size because of social distancing guidelines. It's made meeting demand much more difficult.
"The shortage of drivers is ultimately going to make it difficult to deliver gas to all the gas stations coming this summer, so potentially prices could rise," Ball said.
It is why Ball is urging anyone in need of a job with a passion for travel to give trucking a try. According to Ball, on average, first-year drivers can make about $50,000 a year after completing four weeks of school.
To put it in perspective, nearly every industry across the board relies on truckers.
"If you can touch something and look at anything in your house, it moved by truck. You have to appreciate just how important this industry really is and how needed drivers are today," Ball said.
An industry we all depend on is struggling to find the supply to meet the demand.