Severe worker shortages continue to cause problems in the supply chain, and the commercial trucking industry can’t keep up with consumer demand for shipped goods.
The $800 billion U.S. trucking industry has several problems limiting its ability to move goods from point A to point B. The pandemic reduced consumer demand for services, and a sharp increase in demand for shipped goods caused problems with the supply chain that may take years to work out.
Trucking Industry Struggles With Worker and Equipment Shortages
There aren’t nearly enough truck drivers to move freight, and warehouses need more workers to help load and unload trailers. Even if enough people were willing to haul cargo, a shortage of new trucks and truck parts means the industry doesn’t have the equipment to get the job done.
Semiconductor shortages currently prevent truck manufacturers from putting much-needed new semitrucks on the road. During the fourth quarter of 2021, ongoing semiconductor shortages reduced tractor-trailer sales by 7,000 units. There are approximately 20,000 new trucks partially built and 187,000 on backorder.
The lack of new semitractors is also driving up prices of used semis. Units that would have gone to the scrap yard before 2020 now sell for $5,000 to $10,000. The average price for a used truck is currently $65,000, which is a 50% jump over last year’s average. Buyers who want a new semi must join a waiting list, with the earliest estimated deliveries in 2023. The prices of those units have not been disclosed to potential buyers.
Supply Chain Bottlenecks Drive Up Shipping Prices
Worker and equipment shortages are driving up shipping prices, which further slow the movement of goods through the supply chain. Shipping prices have increased 50% to 150% compared to spring 2021.
Nation’s Largest Port Struggles With Huge Volume of Cargo Containers
The shortage of truck drivers and equipment has caused problems at the nation’s largest port. Dozens of ships wait offshore at a port in Los Angeles, where 900,000 container units arrive each month. Containers are stacked five high, and shippers must wait until trucks are available to remove them and deliver the goods.
Nearly half of the cargo that arrives at the Los Angeles port is stored onsite for at least nine days. Shipping containers were held for an average of four days before the pandemic. Many truck drivers aren’t interested in removing containers from the port due to low pay, long lines and extended wait times.
Until the industry can resolve worker shortages and the ongoing lack of parts to repair and build trucks, we should expect high prices for shipping and bottlenecks in the supply chain to continue.