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The Correlation Between More Trucks on the Highway and Economic Growth

If you’ve been driving on the highways lately you might have noticed that there seems to be a truck everywhere you look, and if it seems to you like trucking is making a comeback in a major way, you’d be absolutely right.

In fact, this year almost 50,000 new trucking jobs have been created - a testament to the strength of an industry rebounding from recession and growing strongly. There are more new drivers out there right now than ever before, moving freight across America and supporting our national economy.

In fact, according to the American Trucking Association annual trucking revenue hit $700 billion in 2014, an all-time industry high.

This growth and success isn’t isolated to the trucking industry, and its effects have rippled out into many related fields. From warehousing to truck technology development, the impact of this growth has been felt throughout the economy.

Let’s briefly consider the situation that’s created this boom, and the ways in which it has impacted other industries and the nation’s overall economic growth.

Growing Pains

The revenue peak has been brought about to a certain degree by the difficulty in finding and hiring new drivers. In fact, even with as many new drivers as have come on in the past year, the industry is still coming up very short.

Freight carriers are doing everything they can to bring more drivers on board as quickly as possible, but while capacity remains low freight is only growing. This has created an incredibly tight margin that freight carriers are rushing to capitalize on.

Not only are they searching for new drivers, they’re also using the increased revenue to update their fleets to increase capacity. According to transportation research group FTR, orders for North American Class 8 trucks has increased to 375,000 units this year.

Integrated Industries

Increased freight and decreased capacity has made shipping goods more profitable than ever before, but the growth goes far beyond just trucking. Consider the 375,000 additional class 8 trucks mentioned above as an example of just one of the ways the trucking industry’s growth has helped the rest of the economy to grow as well.

According to Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, “The huge amount of orders was driven by several very large fleets placing orders to be built throughout 2015,” and these fleets’ expansion plans are “the result of the (trucking) industry operating near full capacity and fleets having confidence that freight growth will remain strong for the entire year in 2015.”

New driver training, new trucking technology, and more have all experienced a boom. In a June Bureau of Economic Analysis report, it was revealed that the warehousing and storage segment added nearly 28,000 jobs over the past year. This growth runs parallel to that of the trucking industry, and only serves to indicate the correlation between the boom in trucking and the strength of the overall economy.