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Nationwide truck driver shortage felt in North Dakota

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. – The trucking industry is also taking a major hit in the labor shortage. It’s short 80,000 drivers — that’s a record high — according to the American Trucking Association. It’s creating supply chain slowdown throughout the entire nation.

Truck drivers move 71% of the U.S. economy’s goods, but represent just 4% of the vehicles on the road and you may be seeing fewer amid a major shortage in drivers.

“It’s more challenging today to find a professional driver than it ever has been. In our region here in North Dakota and across our expanded network across the entire U.S., it’s a significant challenge in our business,” said Jim Stockeland, president of Britton Transport.

It’s causing massive backups all the way from the ports to the roads.

One of the major challenges? Commercial driver license holders cannot haul outside of the state unless they are over 21 years of age.

“We lose them after high school if they find a different career and don’t consider driving, then it’s less likely that they are going to move to truck driving after those three years when they are on a different path,” said Stockeland.

However, the North Dakota Department of Transportation said the number of people getting their commercial license has remained steady.

“In 2019, we had just over 51,000 CDL drivers. In 2020, we dipped down to just over 50,000 CDL drivers and currently today, we’re at almost 51,000 drivers again,” said Brad Schaffer, driver license cirector with the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

A bipartisan infrastructure bill that’s currently waiting in U.S. Congress would authorize billions of dollars for the transportation industry. Some changes include impacting workforce development and allowing drivers under the age of 21 to cross state lines.

But the problems we are seeing now may take a while to be resolved.

“We have a challenging road ahead of us and the supply chains for quite some time. It’s not going to be fixed this holiday season or next year. It’s many years down the road,” said Stockeland.

In February, requirements for getting a CDL will be changing, requiring more training for future drivers which may deter people from joining the industry.

The NDDOT requires CDLs be renewed every four years.

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