As companies across the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, trucking experts are worried their industry could be left behind as hiring lags.


Robby Wilson has run his Sacramento, California–based driver-training company for more than 27 years and said he's never seen anything like this before. 


"I have more jobs than I can fill right now," Wilson said, echoing the sentiments of others struggling to fill open positions. 



Wilson said he has dozens of companies continuing to contact him in hopes he can send them potential employees. He said some are now offering sign-on bonuses and have increased pay. The issue is he doesn't have enough trainees. 


American Trucking Association chief economist Bob Costello said consumers could pay the price for those companies' incentives and increased pay. 


"Truck driving training schools were closed for a period of time, and then opened up in limited capacity," Costello said. He said the industry didn't train enough people last year, which has played a role in the current shortage.


According to a 2019 report published by the American Trucking Association, in 2018 the trucking industry was short roughly 60,800 drivers. The association estimated the number could only continue to grow. 


Costello said this is a growing issue and it has been brought to the attention of millions during the pandemic. 


In the early days of the pandemic, consumers saw stores run out of things like soap and toilet paper. Costello said more people became focused on the supply chain, which has drawn light to this issue once again. 


The American Trucking Association estimates that truckers carry more than 72.5% of all freight transported in the United States. 


Wilson said there are not enough people in the pipeline to fill the currently open jobs: "Some people have retired, there's COVID, there's a lot of different factors that go into it."