Trucking in 2022: Industry Outlook
The trucking industry has been a hot topic over the past two years. An industry that has often operated behind the scenes without much fanfare is now in the spotlight. In general, many people have been impacted by empty store shelves.
Consumers who haven’t given much thought to how products arrived at their local store have been pouring over headlines discussing the industry’s outlook.
Truck drivers, deemed essential workers, have been center stage during the pandemic when supply chains were strained, and the industry struggled to keep up.
Throughout 2021, much returned to normal. But, for the trucking industry, the strain on the supply chain has continued with an ongoing lack of drivers and a backup in the supply chain across other sectors of the industry.
As experts look to the year ahead, there is an ample amount of opportunity for the trucking industry as a whole. Understanding these projections can help paint a clearer picture of the industry outlook for 2022.
A Projection of Continued Growth Across the Trucking Industry
While there is always a bit of uncertainty entering a new year, the overall outlook on 2022 for the trucking industry looks to be positive.
According to the US Freight Transportation Forecast to 2022 by the American Trucking Association, freight tonnage in the United States is projected to grow 24% by 2022. Simultaneously, industry revenue is projected to rise by 66% — all highly positive outlooks for those working in the industry.
Interestingly, while there has always been a discussion around the disruption of the trucking industry by rail, the report’s projections place the trucking industry far and above the rail transportation industry in revenue and tonnage in 2022. In fact, it is predicted that rail will fall to 14.6% in freight tonnage shares, while trucking will tick upwards to 70%.
An Upward Trend in Truckload Rates
In addition to the positive picture painted around the trucking industry’s growth, experts are also pointing to an upward trend in truckload rates. Recently, when speaking at the Deutsche Bank 2021 Transportation Conference, CEO of Werner Enterprises, Derek Leathers, predicted that rates will increase by 3-5% in 2022.
Reasons for this continued upward trend, according to Leathers, include the continued strain on the supply chain, the demand cycle, and the lack of availability of truck drivers. This leads to the next component in the 2022 outlook — driver shortages.
An Ongoing Issue of Driver Shortages
In a transportation analysis by FTR, the firm predicts that the driver shortage will not end in 2022, but rather will continue to be an issue plaguing the supply chain.
The industry is still down thousands of jobs. Estimates project that around 80,000 by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimate.
By 2022, companies are going to be aggressively hiring, looking to target new demographics. As pointed out by the ATA, one area of opportunity is to increase the number of women behind the wheel. According to the ATA’s data, women only make up 7% of the industry’s drivers, which is far below the percentage of women in the workforce.
A Potential for Added Demand from the Auto Industry
With the recent semiconductor chip shortage, the demand for automobiles has increased while the supply has waned. As a result, factories have halted operations, and dealerships around the nation have been feeling the pain of a lack of inventory. However, at some point, the chip shortage at the root of the auto industry’s supply issues will end. So the question simply becomes, when?
Some projections, such as that by Marvell CEO Matt Murphy, don’t see an end to the shortage in the near future. During a recent CNBC Technology Executive Council event, Murphy was cited as projecting a painful period for the industry through 2022.
However, other experts in the industry, such as AMD CEO Lisa Su, are projecting a brighter outlook with a tight start to 2022, followed by less of a shortage in the second half of the year.
If the chip shortage begins to end in 2022, this could have a significant impact on the trucking industry. With the high demand for vehicles, the moment they are ready to be shipped, dealerships and others will be ready to expedite the process. This will undoubtedly lead to an increased demand for auto shipping companies.
Preparing for a Busy Year Ahead
While numerous variables at play will impact the trucking industry in 2022, there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that it will be a busy year.
This means staying on top of necessary paperwork and licensure for truck drivers to make sure that you are ready to hit the ground running as the new year kicks off. If you haven’t yet scheduled your bi-annual DOT exam, now is the time to do so. Many of the pandemic extensions on allowing for expired license use are likely to draw to a close.
Locate a DOT physical exam provider near you and knock that requirement off your list of to-dos.
For DOT physical providers, 2022 will be an essential year to ensure that you are advertising your services in the right locations. With the trucking industry continuing to ramp up hiring, it will be critical to reach new truck drivers as they go through the onboarding process. In addition, make sure to manage any online listings, ensuring that your CDL exam location is easy to find.