Trucking is a big business in the US. How big exactly? We’re talking billions of dollars, billions in tons, and millions of people. You could say it’s the lifeblood of this country, and you wouldn’t be wrong— truckers criss-cross America like blood running through its veins.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that the American economy wouldn’t be the same without truckers. This article reveals 19 statistics you should know about the trucking industry to pay homage to that fact. So put on your trucker hat, pour up a cup of Joe, and let’s go truckin’.
19 Statistics You Should Know About the Trucking Industry Revealed
The following are some mind-blowing statistics about the billion-dollar US trucking industry.
1. The US Trucking Industry is Worth Nearly $800 Billion
The trucking industry generated an eye-popping $732.3 billion in revenue in 2020. The kicker is that figure was down from the previous year’s $791.7 billion, as pandemic restrictions impacted business.
To put the above statistic into perspective, many countries don’t have a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) that high, and if the trucking industry were a country, it’d rank 33rd in worldwide GDP.
2. In 2019, Trucking Industry Revenue Contributed 80.4% Of the US Freight Bill
Revenue derived from the trucking industry made up a colossal 80.4% of the US freight bill in 2019. As stated above, the industry’s pre-pandemic revenue for that year edged close to $800 billion; hence, the industry’s outsized contribution to the US economy.
3. Not a Single One of the Regulators in the Trucking Industry Has a Background in Driving Trucks
None of the four administrators of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the government agency charged with administering laws and regulations in the industry, has held a commercial driver’s license or worked in the trucking industry.
4. In 2019, Truckers Transported Over 11 Billion Tons of Freight
You read that right: according to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) American Trucking Trends 2020, the trucking industry saw 11.84 tons of freight moved across the country.
Of course, that number decreased the following year due to the global pandemic, but it’s beginning to pick up speed once again.
5. On Average, Truck Drivers Cover Over 100,000 Miles per Year
The average truck driver makes at least 40 trips around the US or over 100,000 miles every year. Daily, drivers cover between 280 and 430 miles, clocking 3000 miles a week. In total, a full-time truck driver may spend 300 days on the interstate highway, spending almost 20 hours a day by themselves.
In comparison, on average, US motorists drive 13,500 miles every year.
6. In 2018, 11% Of Fatal Motor Accidents Involved a Large Truck
Given how far truckers have to drive and how difficult their working conditions can be, it isn’t too surprising that 11%of the fatal vehicle accidents in 2018 involved a truck. Additionally, 4,136 people were killed in these accidents in the same year, and 34.52% of the accidents happened on major roads (35.33% of the accidents occurred on highways and interstates).
On average, the cost of the loss of a large truck in an accident is $70,000.
7. More Than 14% Of All US-Registered Vehicles Are Commercial Trucks
2019 saw the registration of a mind-boggling 37.9 million trucks for business purposes. That equated to 14% of the entire vehicles registered in the country that year.
Additionally, these trucks covered 300.05 billion miles that year, burning 45.9 billion gallons of petrol along the way.
8. Over One Million Companies Are Involved in the US Haulage Business
In February 2021, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had 996,894 for-hire carriers, 813,440 private carriers, and 83,235 other interstate carriers on file. In total, the number of companies in the haulage business totaled 1,894,169.
The preceding figure is mind-blowing because it relates to companies involved directly in owning and using trucks to transport goods around the US alone. In other words, it doesn’t include all the other companies involved in the trucking industry like logistics companies, insurers, mechanics, etc.
9. Of the Over One Million Haulage Companies in the Trucking Industry, Most Are Small Companies
Concerning the above statistic, 91.3% of the 1,894,169 haulage companies in the industry operate a fleet of six trucks or less. Meanwhile, 97.4% operate a fleet of 20 trucks or less, indicating most carriers aren’t large companies.
The above statistic also indicates that the truck driving industry is highly competitive. You can chalk the competitiveness down to a low barrier to entry, as truckers merely need to earn their commercial driver’s license to get their start in the industry.
10. The Trucking Industry Employed Nearly 6% Of the US Workforce in 2020
In 2020, 7.65 million of the 124-million-strong US workforce worked in the trucking industry. The above figure excludes self-employed individuals and equates to almost 6% of full-time jobs in the country.
Also, 3 million truckers worked in the industry in 2020, with a total of 8 million people working in the industry at the time. The remaining 5 million workers included mechanics, dispatchers, logistics personnel, and many others.
11. Walmart Is One of the Biggest Employers of Truckers in the US
Conglomerate Walmart has 8000 truckers on its payroll, having ditched third-party haulage contracts for a trucking workforce it personally manages and employs. These truckers move goods sold by the company to its 4,700 branches across the country.
Notably, the company plans to increase its trucking workforce, offering referral bonuses and pay raises per mile to drivers, among other perks. Walmart truckers already enjoy much higher pay than the industry standard (more below).
12. There Aren’t Enough Truck Drivers in the Industry
Remember how we mentioned that 3 million truckers worked in the industry in 2020? According to the American Trucking Association, the industry needs more drivers. The trucking industry was short 60,000 drivers in 2018, and this lack of workforce is set to increase by 2028 if the shortage isn’t corrected.
Incidentally, stopping the shortage will require the industry to hire roughly 110,000 truck drivers every year. Also, approximately 54% of these new drivers will have to replace retiring drivers.
13. The Truck Industry Is Expected to Grow at a Rate of 6% By 2030
Although the global pandemic in 2020 caused a recession, the trucking industry has since bounced back and is expected to experience a 6% job growth rate by 2030. In other words, about 231,000 new truck driving positions will be available each year.
The above statistic is interesting because the threat of self-driving trucks looms large over trucking jobs, as the following statistic below will reveal.
14. By 2025, the Global Self-Driving Truck Market Is Projected to Be Worth $1.6 Billion
Although the trucking industry needs more drivers and is expected to see a 6% job growth rate by 2030, many of those jobs will be under threat from autonomous trucks. The proof of this job insecurity is in the numbers: in half the time it’ll take for the industry to reach a 6% job growth rate, the global self-driving truck market will be worth $1,699,000,000
Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Nissan Motor Corporation found that over half of small business owners believe that we’ll have completely autonomous fleets in 20-years’ time.
15. The Annual Salary of Truck Drivers Is Significantly Less Than What Workers in Other Industries Take Home
Although there’s a shortage of drivers and the trucking industry is worth $800 billion, the median wage for truck drivers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $43,680 per annum. That figure is much less than what employees in other industries receive in income per year, meaning trucking is not a lucrative line of work if you’re a truck driver.
However, it’s a different story if you’re an owner-operator, i.e., you own and drive your own truck. Owner-operators earn a median salary of $50,000 per annum, as they’re considered safer drivers than people who drive for companies (perhaps due to them owning the truck).
16. Minorities Constitute 40% Of the People Employed in the Trucking Industry
Of the 7.65 million people who work in the trucking industry, an incredible 40% are minorities. When you compare that figure to the number of minorities employed in the national workforce – a smaller 22%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – it’s hard not to be impressed. On a related note, the majority of truck drivers are white.
17. Of All the Truck Drivers in the Trucking Industry, 7% Are Women
Unsurprisingly, the truck driving profession is male-dominated. However, female truck drivers are among the ranks, making up 7% of the workforce. Unfortunately, female representation in this industry lags significantly compared to other sectors.
18. Truckers Deliver 70% Of the Goods We Purchase From Stores
In 2019, truckers moved 70% of the goods that eventually made their way into US households. Additionally, the trucking industry helped shift 67.7% of freight between the US and Canada and 83.1% of cross-border trade between the US and Mexico.
19. If Truckers Stopped Working, Most Grocery Stores Would Run Out of Food in Just Three Days
According to experts, most grocery stores would experience food shortages within three days of a halt in trucker activity. Of course, it’s hard to imagine this happening, considering grocery store shelves are always stocked with goods, but, given the low wages earned by truckers, it’s nevertheless concerning.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take To Become a Truck Driver?
Depending on the type of qualification you decide to earn, it could take a couple of weeks, months, or up to a year to become a qualified truck driver. If you’re training full-time, you can expect to earn your commercial driver’s license in 7 weeks maximum. Typically, you can expect to pay anything between $1000 to $10,000, depending on the course you decide to take.
Which States Have the Highest Demand for Truck Drivers?
Pennsylvania, California, Texas, and Florida offer the most employment opportunities for truck drivers due to their high population densities. Meanwhile, North Dakota, Nevada, and Alaska are the best states to work as a truck driver if you’re looking for better pay.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Becoming a Truck Driver?
The benefits of becoming a truck driver are that there’s a low barrier to entry, and you require few educational qualifications to get a commercial driver’s license. Also, since there’s a shortage of drivers, the demand for a person with your particular skills is high.
Regarding the cons, you’ll be spending long periods away from home, which isn’t ideal if you have a family. Moreover, the job can be very dangerous as accidents are a huge concern. Finally, this isn’t the best line of work if you’re looking for high pay.
Is Trucking Demanding?
It isn’t an easy job. Even though the physical aspect of the job isn’t too difficult, most drivers spend extended periods away from home (300 days on the road) all alone and are behind the wheel of a truck for hours on end. Therefore, it can be exhausting both mentally and emotionally.
If nearly $800 billion in revenue is any indication, the trucking industry is vital to the US economy. Without truckers and haulage companies, we wouldn’t be able to purchase the goods we rely on from stores across the country.
It can be challenging to reconcile the shortage of drivers with the ever-present threat of self-driving trucks entering the mainstream within the next two decades. Additionally, low wages and a grueling schedule don’t bode well for the staffing shortage, even if companies like Walmart offer competitive compensation.
However, one thing is certain: the US trucking industry is here to stay regardless of how it evolves.