The nation is in financial trouble. The nation’s trucking industry is facing significant headwinds in dealing with a massive shortage of drivers — just one of the factors contributing to a supply chain bottleneck that is driving up prices and threatening to put a crimp in Christmas shopping. The trucker shortage, which the industry has warned of since at least the 1980s, has reached critical mass with the help of COVID-19 shutdowns that triggered widespread layoffs and temporarily closed state DMVs and truck driver training schools that serve as the new-driver pipeline.
“Currently, 20% to 25% of all truck drivers are still missing,” said Mike Kucharski, head of JKC Trucking, an Illinois-based company that specializes in shipping food. “JKC has trucks that desperately need drivers behind the wheel that are parked.” The shortage of truck drivers is just one of the weak links in America’s broken supply chain that President Biden is struggling to fix. For him, the high prices and empty shelves that emanate from the huge backups at California shipping ports are a political problem, as unhappy consumers quickly become unhappy voters.
Months after the troubles manifested in the supply chain, Mr. Biden called in senior administration officials and what the White House described as “stakeholders” for a brainstorming session Wednesday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president’s supply chain task force will discuss “a range of steps that need to be taken” and are even “open to considering policies or continuing some policies” from the Trump administration. Ms. Psaki was light on specifics about what issues would be brought up or whether the truck driver shortage was part of the conversation.