On the Road Again: A Profile of Truckers
Trucking plays a major role in Canada's economy. More than 53% of exports to the United States and 78% of all imports were shipped by truck in 2004, according to a new study published today in the online version of Perspectives on Labour and Income.
However, because of the sector's steady growth, an aging work force, and the declining popularity of the occupation, the industry may soon face a shortage of qualified truckers.
Nearly 271,000 people, the vast majority of them men, worked as truckers in 2004. Four out of every five were employees, while the others were self-employed, commonly known as owner-operators.
Just over 60% of all truckers worked directly for a company whose principal activity was transporting freight.
Truck drivers constitute a relatively older work force. In 2004, the average age for wage-earning truckers was 42, and for their self-employed counterparts, 45.
Also, 18% were aged 55 or older, compared with 13% for workers in general. For the first time in 2004, truckers aged 55 and over outnumbered those under 30, indicating that the occupation may be hit by a large number of retirements in the coming years.
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 aged 65 and over in 2001.
Just as worrisome is the lack of young truck drivers. Only 5% were under 25 in 2004, compared with 15% in the labour force as a whole. Similarly, just over one-quarter of truckers were between 15 and 34, as opposed to 37% 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.
One factor in recruiting is the minimum age for obtaining a commercial vehicle driver's licence. In Canada, this age ranges between 18 and 20 depending on the province, while in most American states, the age is 21.
In practice, transport companies demand an even higher minimum age than that set by legislation. While this could be related to the high cost of insurance for young drivers (especially in international transport), it is more likely due to the importance given to practical driving experience.
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.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Vincent Dubé (613-951-7031; firstname.lastname@example.org) or Denis Pilon (613-951-2707; email@example.com), Transportation Division.