Trucking Industry Recruitment:  The Industry Landscape in 2023

When the pandemic first appeared on our radars in early 2020, no one really knew what to expect in the coming days, weeks, and, eventually, months and years.  The subsequent time was full of fears and doubts for many people, and much of this uncertainty carried over into the economy, as it is want to do in times of great unrest.  For the trucking industry, though, the story was exponentially different.  Even with closed rest areas and truck stops and warehouses, trucking and logistics companies understood that they were one of the few industries still running.  After a short hiring freeze in the spring of 2020, caused by the U.S. coming to grips with Covid-19, hiring picked up by trucking companies.  People still desperately needed goods provided by truck drivers, and, therefore, the trucking industry began a hiring spree that lasted nearly two years. 

So, What Happened?

From the middle of the pandemic to today, the trucking industry has cooled down on its hiring.  According to the jobs report released this month (March 2023), trucking companies have lost 22,000 jobs.  Why?  What happened in the industry? 

The Chief Executive of C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. told the Wall Street Journal that they simply overestimated the number of drivers they would need in a post-pandemic economy.  During the Covid-19 crisis, truckers delivered goods to warehouses to be shipped out to consumers stuck at home.  After the initial scare was over, the economic landscape looked vastly different, with people going out in droves to shop and socialize to make up for the time lost.  Now, nearly three years later, the supply chain needs are finally starting to even out, causing companies that recently added jobs to either cut them or wait for drivers to either quit or retire.  Since October 2022, over 42,000 jobs have been lost in the transportation and warehousing sectors according to the federal government’s report, with the WSJ saying that that makes it 50,000 jobs lost in the industry since June of last year. 

 What Is Next for Trucking?

Many in the industry are asking what happens next, but the answers are not easy to come by.  Some, like Brett Aquila at Trucking Truth, think that new drivers will be the key to maintaining a sense of stability in trucking.  Since new drivers lack experience, they are less expensive to pay than veteran drivers.  Companies do not want to replace their fleet drivers with students, but, if hiring students to replace leaving drivers helps the bottom line, there is nothing wrong with testing the waters with them.  The important thing to remember here is that student drivers need to have good mentors and a strong support system. 

For many companies, though, the current answer lies in not filling open trucks.  Instead of hiring more drivers, the Chief Executive Officer at ArcBest Corp. is looking for their drivers to be more efficient.  What this says is that retention has become the top strategy for trucking companies.  There will always be truckers that retire or desire to leave the industry, but that means that the experienced career drivers are an even bigger boon to their companies now.  Freightwaves has said that with trucking businesses reading the market better, there are not going to be the massive hiring needs that the previous few years has seen, but, with a company of experienced drivers, the trucking industry can run the fewer loads needed more efficiently and with fewer issues.     


As with most other industries, retention is going to be the key strategy for trucking in 2023, and possibly into 2024.  Retaining the best drivers will ensure that every trucking company has experienced men and women to run their driving teams, no matter what the economy does in the future. 

If you need any help with your Employee Retention strategies, reach out to Lionzone for help!  Our LZRecruit Network is here to help businesses in all industries find and retain the best and brightest talent, but we have been helping trucking companies with their drivers needs for over a decade!  Call us at 800-755-0623 or check out today!


Meaghan Goldberg covers recruitment and digital marketing for Lionzone.  A Patterson, GA native, after graduating from both Valdosta State University and Middle Tennessee State University, Meaghan joined Lionzone in 2018 as a digital recruitment strategist before becoming the social media manager.



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