Truck driving jobs and auto industry jobs to surge in near future

burgundy semi truck cruising at sundown

Increasing demand for truck driving jobs and a potential labor shortage in the auto industry will create opportunities for hundreds of thousands of workers as the U.S. economy slowly recovers from the recession. Flickr photo.

As much as 400,000 truck driving jobs and an upcoming labor shortage in the U.S. auto industry promise to put a small dent in the U.S. unemployment rate. The U.S. auto industry and the U.S. trucking industry hemorrhaged jobs during the recession. But as the economy slowly recovers, truck driving jobs and auto industry jobs are returning. The U.S. trucking industry is already seeing driver shortages in some markets. The U.S. auto industry could face a labor shortage within the next few years.

A resurgence of truck driving jobs

Overall the U.S. trucking industry lost almost 150,000 truck driving jobs since the start of 2008. But the industry will create about 200,000 new truck driving jobs by the end of this year. Another 200,000 will be added next year, according to the state of logistics report from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. reports that a number of factors are creating the need for more truck drivers: retirements, tougher safety regulations designed to get drivers with bad records off the road and the need to replace drivers who were laid off during the recession.

Auto industry jobs demand new skills

The U.S. auto industry shed 228,000 jobs in the past two years. But trends show an addition of about 15,000 jobs this year and up to 100,000 new jobs a year from 2011 through 2013 as the auto industry recovers from the recession, according to the Center for Automotive Research. USA Today reports that the new jobs won’t be filled by the legion of union members who lost their jobs when the U.S. auto industry declined. On the factory floor, auto industry jobs are demanding more and different skills, such as computer literacy and the ability to work with less supervision than their predecessors. That likely means education beyond high school.

Truck driving jobs not easy to fill

Truck driving jobs won’t be easy to fill, even with a U.S. unemployment rate reported at 9.7 percent in May, said Rosalyn Wilson, the author of the report featured in the article. She said that trucking companies are going to face a challenge finding the drivers they will need over the next year and half. “It’s not a very attractive profession,” she said. “People want jobs, but they also want their quality of life, to be home with their family at the end of the work day.” The median truck driver salary was $37,730 in May 2009. But most truck driving jobs pay by the mile, and more miles and the driver shortage are likely to increase wages in the years ahead.

Auto industry news: improving outlook

Recent auto industry news supports the prediction of more jobs, but not yet enough to affect the U.S. unemployment rate overall. The Associated Press reports that Chrysler announced it was rehiring almost 400 laid off workers and investing $343 million to build transmissions for Mercedes Benz and Audi at its manufacturing facilities in Kokomo, Ind. Chrysler said the investment, the company’s largest in the U.S. since it exited bankruptcy protection last June, will help retain 1,200 jobs. Meanwhile, U.S. automakers reported double-digit sales increases last month.

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