Truck driver shortage worsens supply chain backlog

Amid a shortage of truck drivers, there are more than 13 loads for every truck at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, adding to the supply chain backlog.

Long Beach port director Mario Cordero said he expects a new deal with the Biden administration — to keep ports open 24/7 — will help speed up long waits for truckers who are picking up shipments.

"If a truck driver shows up at 5 in the morning, you're not going to wait two hours to get into the terminal," Cordero said.

Most of the nation's goods are transported by truck. With drivers in demand, they are commanding higher salaries — up 25% since 2019, according to the American Trucking Association.

"In a couple of years, I'd like to hit the six figures," said Ron Bodnar, who cited the pay as a driving factor in why he chose the profession.

But those who want to drive face hurdles. Harbor Trucking School owner Luis Franco said there's been a lot of interest in his school, but none of his drivers could get licenses for months when the pandemic hit because the Department of Motor Vehicles shut down. Even now, it can take months to get an appointment.

"The DMV needs to make it a priority in order for them to get out there on the road and start making money," Franco said.

Right now, it's about putting products back on store shelves ahead of the holiday season.

"I think there are cost issues, particularly when you talk about labor costs for the third shift. On the other hand, what is the cost of doing nothing? We now see what that is," Cordero said.

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