In-depth: Economists, trucking experts explain supply chain issues

Truck Driver Shortage
Posted at 4:20 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 17:20:17-04

For more than a year, we've seen supply chain issues causing headaches for consumers.

"Everything works together to create a big problem," Dr. Axel Stock said.

Dr. Stock has studied supply chain issues for more than 20 years. He's currently an associate professor of marketing at the University of Central Florida. He explained to ABC Action News that the U.S. supply chain issue starts overseas in Southeast Asia.

"There were extensive shutdowns, which then led to the shutdown of factories," Dr. Stock said. "And at the same time, we have a situation here that many consumers did not spend as much money last year. So they have a lot of money available now to spend. So there is some pent-up demand for products and services. So everybody rushes to the market."

Dr. Stock also blames consumer habits switching up after restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues shut down.

"All this demand shifted to in-house entertainment. You get demand for ellipticals and exercise machines," Dr. Stock said.

And when Americans on lockdown began shopping online more, it stretched transportation companies thin.

"I've never seen it this bad," Brad Ball said.

Ball has been in the trucking industry for 25 years and now leads Roadmaster Drivers School. He says the truck driver shortage had been an issue prior to the pandemic. There was a gap of about 60,000 drivers, now it's growing.

"We have trucking companies calling me every single day, calling our schools every single day, trying to figure out how to hire more drivers," Ball said.

Ball says even with incentives like higher pay and tuition reimbursement, it's hard to find help. ABC Action News checked the job listing site, Indeed. There are nearly 1,200 open truck driver jobs in Tampa alone.

Ball and Dr. Stock have their own views on how we'll fare in the short term and the long term.

"It's only going to get worse and supply chain problems through the end of the year are going to be very difficult to get through," Ball said.

"In the history of mankind, we always have solved problems that came at us. So that's why I want to be optimistic that we'll continue to be the case," Dr. Stock said.