StatsCan study blames demographics on driver shortage

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TORONTO, Ont. – The driver shortage in Canada may become increasingly severe over the next few years according to a 2004 study by Statistics Canada.

The study, titled “On the Road Again” featured on the online version of “Perspectives on Labour and Income,” said for the first time in 2004 truckers aged 55 and over outnumbered those under30, indicating that the occupation may be hit by a large number of retirements in the coming years. Drivers 55or older also make up 18 per cent of the 271,000 people who worked as truckers in 2004, compared with13 per cent for workers in general.

Truck drivers constitute a relatively older work force with the average age for wage-earning truckers was42, and for their self-employed counterparts (O/Os),45.

At the same time, truckers appear more likely to remain longer in the labour force. For example, trucking was the sixth most popular occupation among employed men aged65and over in2001.

According to the study, just as worrisome is the lack of young truck drivers. Onlyfive per cent were under25in2004, compared with15 per cent in the labour force as a whole. Similarly, just over one-quarter of truckers were between15and34, as opposed to37 per cent in the labour force as a whole.

From the standpoint of supply, this indicates that today’s young workers are less inclined than the previous generation to enter the occupation, according to the study.

Overall, truckers are less educated than the average, and their ranks contain a smaller percentage of immigrants than overall. Truckers earn a wage close to the average for all occupations, but they receive fewer benefits, especially with respect to a retirement plan.

By the same token, truckers work many more hours than the average for all occupations, often according to irregular schedules.

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