Walmart Thursday said its drivers can now make up to $110,000 in their first year at the company—and more once they hit longer tenures— in the latest sign the massive trucker shortage is causing major employers to do more to attract new drivers.
We are seeing a resurgence of blue-collar and frontline workers. Starbucks and Amazon employees at several locations voted to unionize. At a number of companies, employees staged walkouts and strikes in what’s been called Striketober. Frontline and blue-collar workers are demanding better pay and benefits, along with requiring bosses to treat them with dignity and respect in the workplace.
If you go shopping yourself or outsource the task to an Instacart gig-worker you’ll either see empty shelves or receive texts from the gig contractor saying that they can’t find about 60% of the stuff requested.
There has been a disruption in the supply chain, which has been elevated due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The two countries account for around thirty percent of wheat and related agricultural products. With the war raging, farmers can’t tend to their crops or safely get their produce to market.
Several months ago President Joe Biden pushed the labor leaders running the ports to work around the clock to unpack containers, get them off the docks and send the goods, food and provisions to the American public. It helped, but there is a bigger issue that needs addressing. We can receive all the goods from China and other countries around the world, however, if there are not enough truckers to deliver them to stores, supermarket shelves will remain bare.
To add to the problem, the supply chain disruptions have stoked the already record-setting rate of inflation, drastically increasing the costs of everything from food to gasoline and computer ships.
The more than $100,000 compensation may seem surprising to many people at first. Truck drivers are the lifeblood of commerce, transporting over 70% of the United States economy’s products across the country. The current challenge is that there is a massive shortage of truckers. The industry has lost 6% of its workers since the pandemic began, and some companies saw trucker attrition rates skyrocket up to 150%. During the virus outbreak, it was hard to find new recruits to train and learn how to operate these large and sophisticated vehicles.
The trucking industry desperately needs at least 80,000 new truckers, U.S. Xpress, one of the nation’s largest truckload carriers, says. The American Trucking Associations reported that this sector is headed for a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2030, and the need for one million new drivers over the next 10 years.
Driving a truck is a grueling way to make a living. You’re on the road most of your life. If you have a family, you don’t see them for months at a time. Stopping at small rest stations, local diners and low-quality motels left the driver susceptible to catching Covid-19. Many truckers also bear the burden of gas, insurance and maintenance costs, which reduces their take-home pay.
It’s a hot job with around 11 million opportunities available. With plentiful jobs available, many truckers decided to leave the industry and pivot to something new. They’ve gone into construction as the real estate market is hot, manufacturing, warehouse and fulfillment centers or picked up a new trade. If nothing is done about increasing the number of truckers, no matter how much merchandise is imported, they can’t be promptly delivered and prices and inflation will continue to rage unabatedly.
Walmart understands this dilemma and has taken action. The retailing giant launched its inaugural Walmart Private Fleet Development Program. Throughout a 12-week program, supply chain associates in the Dallas and Dover, Delaware, areas earned their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and became full-fledged Private Fleet Walmart drivers.
To offer growth opportunities, the big box chain also offers truckers access to the Live Better U program, where Walmart covers the cost of tuition and books for a college degree and our nationwide network of Walmart Academies.
Established, experienced drivers at the Private Fleet serve as Certified Driver Trainers, teaching the next generation. The process takes months of real-world experience under trained instructors, and a dedicated mentor to help them smoothly transition into their new role. After completing both classroom training and real-world experience, the student will graduate, and be prepared to start driving a truck.
With more of these types of programs, having a full deployment of truckers will create new jobs, help alleviate the supply chain disruptions and dampen out-of-control inflation.