ATA Chief Economist Predicts Competition for New Drivers May Intensify

Unemployment is falling. Job openings are rising. Single family housing starts are doing well. And on average Americans have recently experienced a higher growth in real disposal income, closer to 3%.

That growth is nearly double the 1.6 percent average annual growth in real disposable income from 2007 to 2010.

Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, said as the U.S. economy gets closer to full employment, that will stimulate wages going up because there will be greater demand for workers.

“When that happens, for a vast majority of people, the more money they have coming into the household, the more money they have to spend, putting all of that stuff on trucks,” he added.

Costello spoke with Transport Topics veteran reporter Dan Bearth in Episode 22 of Transport Topics’ LiveOnWeb presentation “Top 100 For-Hire Carriers and Disruption in the Industry” about the current labor market and the economy.

Costello said there were 292,000 jobs (recently adjusted from an earlier estimate of 287,000) created in June and 255,000 jobs created in July. While Costello expects that monthly job growth to taper off to between 150,000 and 200,000 going into 2017, he points out that the picture for reaching full employment looks good.

After all, just several years ago, there were eight unemployed workers for every job opening, he said. Whereas, more recently, there are only two unemployed workers for each job opening.

The flip side to all of this good economic news for the trucking industry is that it will become more difficult for companies to recruit new drivers since trucking companies will be competing with construction, retail and other industries for some of those same workers, Costello said.

That will make it even more important for trucking companies to distinguish themselves among potential driver recruits.

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