Understanding the Truck Driver Supply and Demand Gap and Its Implications for the Canadian Economy

About the study

This study analyzed the trucking industry and the supply and demand of truck drivers in the Canadian economy. Using Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census data and Labour Force Surveys (1998-2011), the study offers an insight into the challenges the trucking industry face in recruiting new drivers, and provides labour market information such as the number of truck drivers employed in the labour force, wages, and industry and employment growth.

UPDATE: Since the Conference Board of Canada released the report, new data from the National Household Survey further confirmed the analysis in the report. A short article on this can be found here.


What can be learned from this study?

• In 2006, 304,890 truck drivers were in the labour force and 180,000 of them worked in the for-hire trucking industry accounting for 65% of the labour force in the for-hire trucking industry. The for-hire trucking industry is critical to transporting and delivering goods to consumers across Canada.

• The average age of truck drivers is high (44.2 years) compared to rest of the labour force (40.2 years). With the average age of truck drivers increasing more rapidly, it is more alarming that the industry is having trouble attracting younger drivers under the age of 30. This is most likely due to unfavourable life-style and working conditions for truck drivers.

• Less than 20% of immigrants worked as truck drivers in the trucking industry. The study notes that this may be so because truck driving is not listed as one of the skilled occupations. One-third of truck drivers did not have a high school diploma.

• With strong employment growth in the trucking and resource industries in British Columbia, there is a shortage of truck drivers in BC and across Canada. Given that truck drivers are aging rapidly, a small increase in the driver supply (+1,400) by 2020 is not going to solve the problem. It is estimated that by 2020, British Columbia would have even fewer truck drivers than they have now.

• Strong growth is expected for for-hire trucking industry from $17 billion to $21.4 billion in 2020. However, the gap between truck driver supply and demand is expected to increase and by 2020, the trucking industry would be 25,000 drivers short.

• To alleviate truck driver shortage in the industry, the industry could improve working conditions for truck drivers, recognize truck driving as skilled occupation, and increase wages to attract immigrants and younger drivers.

• Industry leaders cited aging population, low wages, and life-style and stigma of the truck driver make recruiting new drivers a challenge. It was most difficult to attract drivers for long-haul trucking.

• The trucking industry saw an annual growth of 1.1% in employment from 1999 to 2011, with number of employed rising from 239,500 to 272,700. In 2011, truck drivers earned an average weekly wages of $883.56, which was above the national average.


What method(s) did the study use?

Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census data and Labour Force Surveys (1998-2011) were used to conduct quantitative analysis of the trucking industry and truck driver occupation. Also, series of interviews with 15 industry leaders and other stakeholders were conducted as part of industry consultations.