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Truck Driver Jobs Hard To Fill Even In Bad Economy

RUSS BYNUM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) â¿¿ Tribe Transportation is a growing company that just added 10 new trucks to its tractor-trailer fleet. The problem has been hiring people to drive them.

So far the Georgia-based company has filled four of the jobs, leaving six vacancies. The new hires are mostly veteran truckers in their 50s, men who probably won't spend too many more years behind the wheel, said Matt Handte, Tribe's executive vice president for sales and operations,

"It blows my mind that I'm looking for that many people and I can't find them," said Handte, who's also struggling to hire logistics brokers who line up freight transportation for customers such as PepsiCo, H.J. Heinze Co. and General Mills. "They aren't lined up at the door."

Even amid a struggling economy with high unemployment, trucking companies had a tough time hiring young drivers willing to hit the road for long hauls. Now the U.S. is speeding toward a critical shortage of truck drivers in the next few years as the economy recovers and demand for goods increases, an expert in the inner-workings of supply chains said in a report Tuesday.

U.S. companies are expected to create more than 115,000 truck driver jobs per year through 2016, but the number of Americans getting trained to fill those jobs each year is barely 10 percent of the total demand, said Page Siplon, executive director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

"Trucking accounts for how we move 80 percent of cargo in our nation" said Siplon, whose center is part of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "If we don't have enough workers, it's going to be slower and more costly to move products. If I can't move as much product to the shelves as I want to, the cost to consumers goes up."

Stock quotes in this article: CAG, GIS, PEP 

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