Since Day 1, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken on the supply chain disruptions and price increases resulting from the decades-long lack of investment in the nation’s goods movement supply chain. The Administration enacted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to bring our infrastructure to the 21st century, worked with ports to clear the docks and gets good moving, launched a pilot initiative to create the digital infrastructure to connect key stakeholders in the supply chain, and more. The result is a modern goods movement system that boosts American competitiveness and cuts families’ costs.
Trucking moves 72 percent of goods in America and is a lynchpin in our goods movement supply chain. Trucking costs grew more than 20 percent last year as a surge in demand for goods caused by the pandemic confronted a decline in trucking employment that preceded the pandemic. The low supply of drivers is driven by high turnover and low job quality. Turnover in trucking routinely averages 90 percent for some carriers and drivers spend about 40 percent of their workday waiting to load and unload goods – hours that are typically unpaid. Many truckers are not directly employed and operate as independent small businesses, bearing the burden of leasing, gas, insurance, and maintenance costs themselves. These financial burdens cause many to leave the profession. Trucking also draws on an older, heavily male workforce—the median age is four years higher than the overall workforce and almost 90 percent of the industry is men—which adds to its recruiting challenges.
Last December, the Administration confronted these challenges head on. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Labor launched a Trucking Action Plan to increase the supply of truck drivers by creating new pathways into the profession, cutting red tape to expand high quality training through Registered Apprenticeship, and laying the foundation for improving job quality to keep people in the profession.
Major Achievements of Biden Effort to Expand and Improve Trucking Jobs:
- Getting Americans Working in Better Trucking Jobs: Since President Biden took office, we have seen historic increases in trucking employment with 2021 registering as the best year for trucking employment growth since 1994 and December 2021-February 2022 as the best three-month stretch for long distance truck hiring since the 1990s. And frontline truckers’ real wages grew this year despite elevated inflation.
- Cutting red-tape in Commercial Driver’s licensing: DOT gave states the tools to more than double new commercial driver’s license issuances in January and February 2022 compared to January and February 2021. States have issued more than 876,000 CDLs since January 2021.
- Scaling Registered Apprenticeships in trucking to improve retention: Over 100 employers including Domino’s, Frito-Lay, and UPS launched Registered Apprenticeship programs in 90 days as DOL cut the amount of time it takes to a launch a program from months to as little as 48 hours. This could result in more than 10,000 additional apprentices.
- Helping connect veterans to trucking careers: The trucking industry partnered with leading Veterans Service Organizations to launch Task Force Movement: Life-Cycle Pathways for Veterans and Military into Trucking, chaired by former Congressman and veteran Patrick Murphy, to support the recruitment and retention of veterans and military family members.
Since the launch of the plan in December, the Administration hosted seven listening sessions with over 100 participants. Continuing to listen and work with drivers is a pillar of the Administration’s work to address job quality in the DOL and DOT’s Driving Good Jobs Initiative. This initiative supports the trucking workforce by creating a task force on truck leasing arrangements, launching a Women of Trucking Advisory Board, and more. The Administration is also committed to addressing core job quality challenges from misclassification to hours of service to workplace safety.
Getting Americans to Work in Better Trucking Jobs
When President Biden took office, there were 30,000 fewer trucking jobs than in February 2020 and trucking employment had been falling even before that. But last year’s historic job growth across the economy resulted in 2021 registering as the best year for trucking job growth since 1994. Trucking employment now exceeds its pre-pandemic level by 35,000 and is higher than it was before it began to decline in 2019. Trucking employment growth over the last year was strongest in California where it exceeded 10 percent as well as Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington where it exceeded 8 percent.
Long-distance truck driving has been the sector of trucking facing the most challenges, but we are now seeing fresh momentum there: December through February was the best three-month stretch for long-distancing trucking employment growth since the 1990s (data are currently only available through February).
Cutting Red Tape: More than Doubling Commercial Driver’s License Processing Compared to 2021
The Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation worked with states and Governors to accelerate CDL processing. DOT announced over $57 million in funding available to help states expedite CDLs, coordinated waivers, sent all 50 states a toolkit detailing specific actions to expedite licensing and worked hand-in-hand with states to address challenges. This resulted in a 112 percent increase in CDL processing in January and February 2022 compared to January and February 2021. States have issued more than 876,000 CDLs since January 2021.
Scaling Apprenticeships: Moving the Market on How Truckers are Recruited, Trained, and Retained
The Departments of Labor and Transportation launched the 90 Day Trucking Apprenticeship Challenge to jumpstart this proven workforce strategy in trucking.
- Over 100 employers across trucking, food and grocery, and the oil and gas industries launched Registered Apprenticeship programs in 90 days. This includes Domino’s, Frito-Lay, UPS, states and national partners such as FASTPORT and the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters. This proven earn and learn model of workforce training will help employers and labor develop and retain a skilled workforce. Apprentices are already hitting the road with NFI and Total Transportation each hiring over 50 apprentices after launching new programs under the Apprenticeship Challenge.
With these 100 employers and 7 trade associations now offering apprenticeships, we have nearly doubled the number of programs nationwide. This could, in turn, double the number of registered apprenticeships in 2022 and result in more than 10,000 new registered apprenticeships. As a point of comparison, annual trucking employment growth averaged 24,000 in the decade before the pandemic.
- Through the Apprenticeship Challenge, industry associations are now leading on the expansion of trucking apprenticeships and will be across the U.S. for years to come. This includes the American Trucking Association, the National Tank Truck Association, FMI (the Food Industry Association), the National Minority Trucking Association, the North American Punjabi Trucking Association, and the Truckload Carriers Association. And the Trucking Alliance, where every member carrier – among the largest long-haul companies that collectively employ more than 80,000 drivers – committed to offer truck driver registered apprenticeships in more than 200 apprenticeship locations in 36 states across the country.
- Over 70 additional employers of all sizes and industry segments including Sysco and WM (Waste Management Inc.) are in the process of developing and launching apprenticeship programs.
- DOT launched the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot, established through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to safely connect American adults under the age of 21 to good-paying jobs in the trucking industry through Registered Apprenticeship.
Connecting Veterans to Trucking: Forging Partnerships to Help Veterans and Transitioning Service Members Enter Trucking
The Administration worked with Veterans Service Organizations and related associations representing more than 4 million veterans and military family members to create ways for the industry to attract, train, place, and retain veterans in trucking jobs. This builds on the already strong connection between veterans and trucking as at least one in ten truckers are veterans, which is double the rate of workers overall.
- The trucking industry partnered with leading Veterans Service Organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Union Veterans Council to launch Task Force Movement: Life-Cycle Pathways for Veterans and Military into Trucking, chaired by former Congressman and veteran Patrick Murphy, to support the recruitment and retention of veterans and military family members in trucking.
- DOL partnered with FASTPORT to connect transitioning service members with apprenticeship and employment opportunities in the trucking industry, while DOD has committed to improve its credentialing programs for all service members—200,000 of whom transition out of military service each year.
Continuing the Driving Good Jobs Initiative to Improve the Quality of Trucking Careers
The Administration launched the new Driving Good Jobs initiative between DOL and DOT to commit to ongoing work to ensure trucking jobs are good jobs. Over the last 90 Days, the Administration held a number of listening sessions and engagements with drivers, unions and worker centers, industry, and advocates to ensure their voices and experiences are shaping future actions across key areas. The initiative will maintain a focus on:
- Ensuring a safe and inclusive industry for women: Expanding opportunities for women in trucking, including by creating safe and inclusive work environments, is critical for increasing trucking supply. This includes:
- The Women of Trucking Advisory Board will review and report on challenges facing woman drivers and those interested in joining the profession, such as on-the-job safety risks, mentorship, quality training, and opportunities for advancement. DOT has begun soliciting nominations.
- The Administration is announcing a Day of Action in April, coinciding with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, to raise awareness and advocate for the prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment in trucking. We will call on industry to commit to actions to promote safe training and work environments including zero-tolerance policies for sexual assault, improving sexual harassment training, and more.
- The Administration is taking steps to ensure drivers entering the profession have a safe environment. DOT is now highlighting whistleblower and coercion protections for individuals facing sexual harassment and unsafe training conditions in its Entry Level Driver Training Program FAQ, which will be distributed to the 11,000 training providers. DOL is identifying employers in the trucking industry that have built supportive and inclusive workplaces for women and developing a “train the trainer” module for new Registered Apprenticeships sponsors who would receive a “seal of approval” upon completion to indicate training programs follow model gender-responsive training standards.
- Truck Leasing: DOT, DOL, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), have stood up a Truck Leasing Task Force to address predatory truck leasing arrangements and identify actions that could make leases more equitable and transparent. The Task Force will review and report on common leasing arrangements, arrangements that result in outsize and unanticipated debt for incoming drivers, and more.
- Detention Time and Compensation Studies: DOT released a scope of work to study driver detention time — the loading and unloading time that is often unpaid — and its impact on safety and compensation. This study will provide a detailed understanding of wait time’s effects on drivers across jurisdictions and industry sectors. DOT is also partnering with the National Academies of Science to study the impact various methods of driver compensation have on safety and retention.
- Truck Parking: Lack of truck parking across the country is about more than just inconvenience, it impacts safety and retention as exhausted drivers have nowhere to rest. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides funding in at least five programs that states can use to address truck parking while requiring states to include an analysis of truck parking needs in their State freight plans, laying the foundation to understand local needs.
- Strengthening workplace safety and worker’s rights: DOL and DOT will continue coordination on critical truck driver labor, employment and safety protections, including releasing new guidance and information for drivers about their workplace rights, and employers about their obligations. Additionally, they are conducting joint outreach and education to employers and drivers about these rights and responsibilities under federal wage and hour law. The Administration is committed to addressing core challenges, such as worker misclassification, while expanding high-road employer practices to build a next generation trucking workforce.