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Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Secretary Marty Walsh Host Roundtable with Trucking Industry about Driver Retention, Supply Chain, and Safety

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Washington, DC- As part of the Administration’s ongoing work addressing supply chain disruption, today, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hosted a roundtable to discuss truck driver recruitment and retention.
Turnover rates are over 90 percent for large long haul carriers and over 72 percent for small carriers -- meaning that drivers are regularly leaving companies or leaving the industry altogether. The lag time that results in training and onboarding new drivers can result in driver shortages. This turnover, coupled with effects from the pandemic, has helped lead to supply chain disruptions for essential goods and transporting freight in and out of ports. 
"Our economy is getting back on its feet, but the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated longstanding challenges in our supply chain - including truck driver retention.” said Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We are bringing government, industry, and key stakeholders together to help support truck drivers and all the consumers and businesses who rely on them." 
"Registered Apprenticeship - which offers workers quality, on-the-job training along with wage progression, and has been shown to improve job retention - can help build a more stable and resilient workforce,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “I look forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg and industry leaders to expand Registered Apprenticeship in order to improve access and retention in the trucking industry." 
The Biden-Harris Administration is addressing these transitory supply chain challenges using all the tools at its disposal. Last month, the President announced the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force - to bring a whole-of-government approach to addressing near-term supply/demand mismatches. Today’s roundtable is part of that effort.
Secretary Buttigieg moderated a conversation with stakeholders to surface best practices to improve driver retention and limit turnover. Secretary Walsh provided an overview of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) registered apprenticeship programs and how they can be a tool in driver retention. Apprenticeships can allow drivers to enter the industry without the burden of debt from training, help drivers prepare for the challenges of the job, and receive training on innovative technologies. FMCSA will facilitate connections between stakeholders and DOL apprenticeship resources and help support the implementation of best practices and administrative actions to improve long-haul truck driver retention.  
In addition to today’s meeting, the FMCSA is working to address other challenges in trucking. FMCSA is supporting state DMVs as they return to—or even exceed—pre-pandemic commercial drivers license issuance rates, which is helping address the truck driver shortage. In 2021, an average of 50,000 Commercial Drivers Licenses have been issued each month, which is 14% higher than the 2019 monthly average and 60% higher than the 2020 monthly average. Further, FMCSA granted operating authority to more than 92,000 motor carriers -- businesses that dispatch large trucks for the transport of goods. This is a 88% increase from the same time period in 2020 and a 60% increase from the same time period in 2019. 
The Department of Transportation and FMCSA will continue to engage regularly with key stakeholders to address driver retention and other issues in trucking. Last month, Deputy Administrator Joshi visited the Port of New York & New Jersey to learn directly from port leaders and trucking companies about how to support driver retention and apprenticeships, and how to alleviate unnecessary downtime for drivers, and the financial consequences of returning empty cargo containers. Following her visit, Deputy Administrator Joshi spoke with Chair Daniel B. Maffei of the Federal Maritime Commission about challenges witnessed and discussed possible ways to work together.   
Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg and Deputy Administrator Joshi also spoke with the National Tank Truck Carriers leadership about short and long-term strategies to improve gas supply chain resiliency and tank truck driver recruitment and retention. And Department staff has engaged with a broad cross-section of the trucking industry - carriers of all sizes; private carriers and for-hire carriers; women and minority driver organizations; organized labor; experts in transportation labor; as well as road safety advocates.