The “driver shortage” should be called a “driver squeeze”

Truck driver stops to have his truck maintained 


Early in my career as a business journalist, covering the metals industry, I was advised not to use the word “shortage” to describe a market. Other terms like “squeeze” were preferred. And it made sense: classic economics would dictate that what was perceived as a shortage was really only a market imbalance that the pricing mechanism would correct by attracting new supply or decreasing demand.

When OOIDA discounts the talk of a “driver shortage,” and instead says it is an issue of pay and working conditions, the organization is reflecting this approach. But if they want to say that, then presumably they will be consistent when they’re trying to get a vehicle repaired and can’t find a diesel mechanic because of the “diesel mechanic shortage.” There is clearly a diesel mechanic squeeze, and the numbers of new mechanics aren’t meeting demand. But if there truly can’t be a shortage, that it is just a function of the pricing mechanism, then there is no diesel mechanic shortage, just like there’s no driver shortage.

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One Comment

  1. Those folks you see driving Mercedes and BMW’s are not the same folks who deliver the food to your local grocery stores, or the nails in hardware, or the 90%+ stuff you use everyday.

    Until I see Over the Road drivers driving Mercedes or BMW’s, the so called driver shortage is just an urban myth!

  2. Tim! You hit it on the head, just yesterday the company i work for for example send a guy to unload milk, the short run paid 80 dollars mileage. He then sits there 8 freakin hours to unload. The first 3 hrs are not paid at all. Then they might pay ya 10.00 an hr if your lucky. So about 120 for a 14 hr day. – taxes insurance etc, he ends up making maybe 60.00 for 14 hrs. And the company wondera why everyone quits. Daaaaa! And they are usa wide. Jeez

  3. Its just the trickle down effect of Electronic logs, the logs caused drivers to lose money. In turn alot of drivers having other skills said I can stay home and make that kind of money quit. So now the trucking industry has to step up its logistics game and charge for detention and force shippers and receivers to unload the trucks in a timely manner. Last but not least the companies are going to make it worth the money for drivers to be away from home. Pay them well!!

John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.