— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on September 6, 2021, Monday.
Trucking rates in New York City rose 80% last week from the week earlier due to Hurricane Ida, according to shipping platform Convoy. Refrigerated trucking rates are sitting at a record high, up 107% from September 2019 levels.
One major reason behind rising trucking rates is extreme weather conditions, which have happened more frequently this year. Many truck drivers will turn down jobs in risky areas. A survey shows that half of the truck drivers would like to avoid wildfire areas.
Another reason is that the pandemic has made the trucker crunch even worse. In 2019, the U.S. already had a shortage of 60,000 truckers, according to the American Trucking Associations. That number is expected to increase to 100,000 by 2023. The shortage could affect various consumer sectors. In fact, nearly every good consumed in the U.S. is put on a truck at some point. According to American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry accounted for 72.5% of all freight transported in the United States in 2019.
The demand for goods transportation is surging amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, some countries which have traditionally relied on foreign workers are facing labor shortages. The safety risk is another factor that has contributed to the scarcity of truck drivers in many countries. Germany, France, and Spain are lacking a total of 400,000 HGV drivers.
The UK needs 100,000 more drivers than it currently has. As a result, McDonald announced earlier this year to suspend sales of milkshakes and bottled drinks. Nando's, a restaurant chain, could not meet the demand for its chicken products. And Haribo said that they could not ship candies to its shops in the UK due to a lack of truck drivers.
Governments are trying to find a solution to the problem. In July, several departments held a roundtable meeting and put forward some suggestions. For example, one proposal was to lower the minimum age requirement to 18 from 21 for drivers and add trucking to the list of industries that can bypass some immigration certification processes. But these ideas have run into roadblocks. Recently, the UK government rejected the industry call for new temporary EU work visas to ease the trucker crunch. In that case, the issue won't go away anytime soon and it could impact the biggest shopping season at the end of the year.