Congressman Frank Lucas has urged Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to do more about the nationwide truck driver shortage and its effects on the country’s supply chain challenges.
He led more than 60 House members in sending a bipartisan letter to Secretary Walsh asking him to prioritize Labor Department Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grants to those wanting to become truck drivers.
The WIOA program provides access to job training for dislocated workers, low-income individuals & out-of-work youth. However, the approval process for some WIOA grant applications can take up to several weeks or months, even for applicants with experience driving long haul trucks. Expediting the application and training process can help fill the estimated 80,000 openings currently available.
Rep. Lucas and the other Representatives pointed out that trucking is one of the two most critical bottlenecks in the freight backlog with the other being long delays at loading docks and seaport terminals.
“Unless we exhaust every possible avenue in which to address this crisis, we risk worsening supply constraints for manufacturers and rising prices on consumer goods.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently found that the trucking industry lost 6 percent of its pre-pandemic labor force of 1.52 million workers in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of October, the industry recovered about 65,000 of those lost jobs but remains short of effectively meeting supply chain demands.
“With turnover rates for large, long-haul truckers reaching the 90 percent mark and the lag time for training and onboarding new drivers lasting several months, it is critically important DOL enact these measures as soon as possible,” the representatives concluded.
The letter has been endorsed by the: American Trucking Associations (ATA), National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC), Women in Trucking (WT), International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO), the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
Full letter text and list of Members who co-signed can be found here