The impact of the trucking shortage and how it can be fixed has been the primary topic of the trucking industry since the shortage began. To help fill more trucking positions, many trucking companies have upped the annual salaries they offer. In fact, a study published in 2018 revealed that the median salary for a truck driver has risen 15 percent since 2013. That is an increase of $45,000 to $53,000 per year. For a private fleet driver, the average salary has increased around 18 percent, which means these drivers are now taking home over $86,000 a year. However, even higher salaries are not enough to recruit the number of truckers needed to end the shortage.
Trucking Industry Must Meet Millennial Demands
As long-term truckers begin to retire, it is clear that the only hope of hiring enough drivers to sustain the industry is to meet the unique requirements of the millennial workforce. These workers, born between the 1981 and 1996 are not just after high-paying jobs. Instead, they are far more concerned with a job’s work-life balance potential. Work-life balance is so important to this new generation of workers, that it has surpassed compensation as the main factor a person considers when applying for a job.
In fact, a recent survey on the topic shows that 64 percent of workers said a work-life balance is the most important factor for job satisfaction, followed by job security (59 percent) and then compensation (54 percent.)
Creating a Healthy Work-Life Balance in the Trucking Industry
Trying to create an appealing work-life balance within the trucking industry can seem challenging. The long hours of driving, weeks away from home, and the not-so exotic locations along the highway can all be deterrents to the next generation of truck drivers.
Some industry experts ponder if requiring truckers to only drive regionally would be a valid solution to the problem. Instead of one trucker taking a haul across the country, truckers could trade off at designated stops, ensuring that every driver is able to make it home for dinner each night.
However, this solution may cause more harm than good. Alternating truckers and transferring loads between trucks would increase time and expenses for each haul. This difference in price could mean a jump in price on groceries and consumers goods as well.
How Drivers Can Improve Their Lives on the Road
While no work-life balance solution has been created, there are a variety of things truckers can do right now to improve their work-life balance. Here are a few things truckers can do every day to improve their quality of life on and off the road.
When driving down a seemingly endless highway for hours on end, it can be easy to zone out and go into autopilot mode. Keeping your mind stimulated is key to enjoying your travels instead of counting down the minutes until you arrive at your next stop. Luckily, there are plenty of audio-based ways to keep your mind engaged while you drive.
- Audiobooks: Audiobooks are a great way to catch up on the latest titles while you’re on the road. With the average book giving you up to 8-13 hours of audio, even just one audiobook can keep you entertained through a long night’s drive.
- Music: Listening to the radio can be a great way to stay engaged and entertained during a long trip. However, if the radio has too many commercials or plays the same songs over and over, there are a variety of better options out there. With new advancements like Satellite Radio and streaming services on your phone, you can start a station that only plays your favorite artists.
- Podcasts: Podcasts are another great way to stay entertained during long trips. Now, there are podcasts covering just about every topic from true crime, news, fishing, sports, and anything else you can imagine. Keep your mind engaged by getting hooked on a new story, laughing along with a comedy podcast, or learning new things about your industry or hobbies.
Trucking obviously requires a lot of sitting still. Sitting in one position for hours can take a toll on your neck, back and legs. However, taking periodic breaks to work out your muscles and burn some calories can help both your body and mind. Whether it involves stretching, going for a jog, doing some push-ups, or taking a long walk, find a small routine that works for you. Getting some exercise in also releases endorphins to help keep you happy and comfortable when you get back in the truck.
Work Hard and Play Hard
When you are finally home after a few days or weeks away, be sure to soak up all the time you have with your family or friends. It can be easy to get bogged down with a long list of chores that need to be done or errands you need to run. Those things are important, but if you don’t allow yourself to have some fun with your kids, enjoy your favorite homemade meals, or go on a date with your spouse, your entire time at home can seem like even more work. Remember what makes your job as a trucker worth it and be sure to give those things and people the time they deserve.
When you are back on the road, be sure to take a little bit of home with you. Take a picture of your family to put on your dash, and bring along some of your favorite homemade snacks for the road. Also, don’t forget to stay in contact with the ones you love. A daily phone call home can go a long way with keeping you connected to your family.
Having a healthy work-life balance as a trucker may be difficult at times, but it is not impossible with the right habits. In the future, commercial trucking companies will have to have more of an emphasis on balancing work and life to appeal to millennials.
Prices on consumer goods are on the rise for a variety of reasons. From new tariffs against China upping prices on technology, tires and other imported items, to inflation, there are many reasons we may be seeing higher prices on the things we buy every day. But could the trucking shortage also be a contributing factor? Especially when it comes to the rising prices of groceries, there is reason to believe the deficit of truckers could be directly related.
Grocery Prices on the Rise
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices will increase by 1-2 percent in 2019. This was a common trend for many decades; however, the rise of food prices has slowed over the past few years. Now, these prices are back on the rise, with notably higher prices on groceries of all kinds.
The price of dairy products is projected to increase by 3-4 percent, vegetable costs will rise 2.5-3.5 percent, and both bakery and fruit prices will increase by 2-3 percent. As for meat, all costs are expected to rise by from 1-3 percent, with the exception of pork, which could actually drop in price by .75 percent.
What is Causing this Raise in Prices?
The rise is grocery prices could be due to a number of factors. From oil prices to overseas trade, a variety of things can spark a cost increase at the grocery store.
High Oil Prices
Oil prices can affect grocery store prices in two different ways. High oil prices often lead to increased shipping costs, which results in higher grocery prices. Because of the higher oil prices, food that gets transported across long distances costs more to ship, so grocery stores have to charge their customers more. Oil prices are constantly in flux and are influenced by several complex factors of their own.
Oil can also affect farming, which can make groceries more expensive as a result. Oil byproducts are an important part of fertilizers, and their price accounts for 20 percent of the cost of growing grains.
Climate change can cause extreme weather conditions that harm crops or make them much more difficult to grow. Because of greenhouse gas emissions, the hot air can absorb moisture and cause it to rain less, drying up ponds and lakes. Additionally, when it does finally rain, the water runs off the land and doesn’t get absorbed by the crops. These factors force farmers to invest more money into yielding a smaller number of crops and selling them to market at a higher price.
U.S. Government Subsidies
Because it is used to create ethanol, a large percentage of the U.S.’s corn production is subsidized. Currently, 40 percent of corn crops go to producing ethanol, which is a huge increase from 2000’s six percent. This means less corn is going to the food supply each year, causing the prices at the grocery store to rise.
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization also has a say in the world’s corn and wheat stockpiles. Because many developed countries like the U.S. and countries in the EU subsidize their agricultural production, they have an advantage over poorer, developing countries. To compensate, the World Trade Organization limits the amount of stockpiling a country may do. However, this means that in a shortage, prices of corn or wheat could rise dramatically in the U.S.
How Does the Truck Driver Shortage Contribute?
In recent announcements, brands including Mondelez, Hershey, Nestle, Unilever, and Coca-Cola stated they will need to increase prices in 2019. These price hikes are in reference to two factors: Higher ingredient costs and increased freight expenses.
A detailed analysis revealed that the cost of a refrigerated truck moving from Washington State to New York rose by 18 percent in only a few weeks. So, a shipment that costed $8,450 jumped to $10,000 a few weeks later. In addition, a truckload heading east out of California saw prices rise by 25 percent during the same time period.
So, what does this have to do with the trucking shortage? Because there are less truckers on the road, the demand for qualified drivers is boosting prices across the board. The cost to transport food across the country has risen, and those higher prices are reflected in markets and grocery stores as well.
American Trucking Associations says the industry is lacking at least 50,000 drivers. If the trucking shortage continues on its current path, that number will be at 174,000 by 2026. And in a decade, it could take 890,000 new drivers to adequately close the gap. Now more than ever, trucking companies are on the lookout for new, qualified drivers to help keep grocery prices low and the economy healthy.
Choosing healthy snacks on the road can be a tedious task. From over-processed snacks at truck stops to greasy fast food, finding a healthy snack that also tastes good may seem impossible. However, eating healthy on the road is imperative to living a long, happy life as a commercial truck driver, and it is not at challenging as it may seem. Here are some great, healthy options for snacks on the go.
You may not find a surplus of raw, crunchy vegetables at your usual truck stops. However, you can count on any grocery store along your route to have a variety of vegetables for you to snack on. Easy, on-the-go vegetables include baby carrots, celery sticks or broccoli. If those aren’t your favorites, don’t worry. There are plenty of other nutritious options out there.
If raw veggies on their own isn’t your thing, try dipping them in some hummus. Hummus is a great source of protein, fiber and antioxidants, and with yummy flavors like chipotle and roasted garlic, hummus is the perfect way to liven up your snack. Try hummus with carrots, sliced bell peppers, or even some pita chips for a healthy snack.
Fruits are another excellent snack for the road. They are packed with important antioxidants and vitamins, and they can give you the boost you need to get through a long drive. Many grocery stores and even truck stops offer pre-cut and washed fruit cups for easy snacks on the go, and just about every gas station has bananas and apples on hand. Just be careful not to purchase fruit cups packed in sugar syrup. Fruit is plenty sweet on its own without the added sugar and extra calories to weigh you down. Try snacking on a fresh apple to give yourself a boost of energy or have some watermelon to stay hydrated on the road.
Jerky can be a satisfying and tasty snack on the road when you are craving something savory and are limited to a truck stop. However, be sure to choose a healthy jerky that is low in sodium and sugar. A good rule of thumb is to choose jerky with less than 500g of sodium and 5g of added sugar per serving. Even if you are a little on the picky side, you should still have plenty of jerky to choose from.
Boiled eggs are a great snack for the road because they are high in protein, filling, and easy to eat; just be sure to keep them cool while traveling. Peel your boiled eggs ahead of time and keep them in a cooler on the road. If boiled eggs are a little bland, liven them up by adding hummus or avocados.
When you just want a healthy, filling, and easy option to store in the truck at all times, there is nothing wrong with stocking up on protein shakes. You can buy protein shakes in powder form to simply mix with water, or you can buy the shakes pre-bottled for easy access. Protein drinks can also provide you with many essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals that will keep you healthy on the road and may otherwise be difficult to get.
Snack bars can either be a great, healthy snack or a secret source of sugar and fat. If you choose the right bar, they can be a great source of protein, keep you full between meals, and maybe even satisfy your sweet tooth with honey and berries. However, there are some bars on the market that might as well be candy bars with all of the sugar and fat they have packed in. Be sure to choose bars that are high in protein and nutrients and low in sugar and fat.
This may not be a snack or even a food but drinking plenty of water can be a great way to stay healthy, energized and full. It may be tempting to avoid water while driving long distances because it will cause more frequent bathroom stops. However, allowing your body to become dehydrated by limiting water all day will cause you to become drowsy and fatigued. Being dehydrated can even cause you to start craving sweets and junk food. Instead, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and snack on fruits that are high in water content. This will keep you hydrated and keep your sugar cravings in check.
Healthy Habits for Truck Drivers
Staying healthy and energized on the road can be a challenge, but you should take the time to pack nutritious snacks and meals before you head out on your next trip. In addition to eating better, try implementing exercises and stretches into your driving routine as well. Start making your health a priority, and you will feel happier, have more energy, and enjoy a better quality of life every day.
If you’re considering a career as a commercial truck driver and need help with a loan, contact Mission Financial today. We offer first time buyer loans for drivers with low credit scores.