Posted December 7, 2020

Driving On Into 2021

By Grace Tino

The 2020 year has circulated around constant change and uncertainty. Since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic early in the year, change has become a constant itself in the daily lives of people across America, and even across the globe. At the forefront of concerns is the rise and fall of job opportunities as the economy continuously fluctuates and remains oftentimes unpredictable. Truckers are no exception to these changes and uncertainties; rest assured, however, that trucking will continue to be an in-demand and hiring industry in the new year to come. Throughout the 2020 pandemic, truckers have risen to the challenges of increasing transport demand for essential items, medical transportation, and higher e-commerce shipments. Drivers have well-earned national respect for their sacrifices as essential workers, as well as increased pay and benefits from the transportation companies relying on them. For the year to come, truckers can expect demand for their work to continue, as well as the benefits and safety precautions that come with it.

Perhaps one of the greatest changes for truckers in 2021 will be the introduction of vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus. Because of truckers' status as essential workers, they can expect to be at the top of the list for distribution. The distribution effort, named Operation Warp Speed, is commencing Mid December. Only a few days ago, the CDC voted in favor of prioritizing the distribution of the vaccine for essential workers at the highest risk of exposure, including groups like truckers and health care workers. To further secure vaccinations as soon as possible for truckers, the American Trucking Associations sent several letters to figureheads such as the CDC committee addressing the vaccinations, President-elect Biden, and current President Trump emphasizing the importance of truckers and their safety during their work by pointing out that the Department of Homeland Security and the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency declared truck critical infrastructure workers.

With transportation associations, companies, and employees themselves advocating for the prioritization of vaccinations for drivers, distribution plans have begun to pop up and will progress as soon as Mid December. The ACIP (Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices), in the formerly mentioned meeting on the deployment of vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus, agreed on a three-phase priority distribution. Phase 1a includes all healthcare personnel and long-term care facility patients, Phase 1b will include essential workers, and Phase 1c will include adults over 65 or with high-risk conditions. Should the plan receive final approval in the coming days, truckers will be recipients of the Phase 1b distribution. Additionally, the transportation industry will play a key role in the distribution of the vaccination through all phases and future deployments to the public once it is finally approved by the FDA.

Drivers' important work won't just include the distribution of vaccinations and medical supplies in 2021 but will also be crucial to the increased demand on transportation companies from e-commerce. Despite the economic recession in 2020, the ATA predicts a 4.9% increase in total freight volume in 2021. Similarly, FTR Transportation Intelligence projects a 6% growth in truck freight next year. E-commerce is not expected to falter but is rather anticipated to continue its path of rapid growth in 2021, which will be a major driving force for company hiring for transportation professionals. With their work as essential as ever, and the driver shortage still a looming concern for transportation companies, drivers can expect higher pay rates among the positive changes next year. The trucker shortage is anticipated to be as high as a 105,000 shortage by 2023.

What does an increased demand for drivers to combat rising freight volumes and driver shortages mean for trucking professionals? Increased salaries, greater respect, and more opportunities for entry-level or advancement opportunities in 2021. Salaries for truckers, including entry-level ones, are growing, with the average right now being between $55,000-$60,0000 for experienced drivers, and around $40,000-$50,000 annually for beginners. Training programs are becoming more readily available for those looking to gain a CDL license, and certifications, such as Hazmat, make drivers even more valuable to companies looking to fill hiring gaps. While 2020 has seemed to turn the world upside down, one positive constant that will truly carry on into 2021 and years beyond is the pronounced respect the nation has for the hard work and sacrifices truckers make. With the new year just around the corner, there has never been a better time to start your trucking career or advance it if you already have experience. Companies are already eagerly hiring drivers with fantastic pay and benefits, and JobsInTrucks offers thousands for you to explore here. Keep on Trucking!