Canada’s trucking work force aging

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In 2004, for the first time, Canadian truckers ages 55 and older outnumbered those 30 and younger, indicating the nation faces a driver shortage similar to that of the United States. About 18 percent of Canadian truckers were ages 55 and older, compared to an average of 13 percent for all other industries, according to Statistics Canada, the nation’s central statistics agency.

Canadian truckers also stay on the job longer than most of the rest of the labor force. Trucking was the sixth most popular occupation among employed men ages 65 and over in 2001, the agency reported. Only a small fraction of U.S. heavy-duty truckers work after age 65, the American Trucking Associations reported in 2005.

Only 5 percent of Canadian truckers were younger than 25 in 2004, compared with 15 percent in other industries. Only 25 percent of truckers were ages 15-34, compared with 37 percent in other occupations.

Global Insight, the consulting firm that conducted the 2005 study for ATA, predicted that in the next decade, economic growth will generate a need for a 2.2 percent average annual increase in the number of long-haul heavy-truck drivers, or 320,000 jobs overall across the United States. Another 219,000 will be needed to replace drivers ages 55 and older who will retire in that time.

Statistics Canada also reported that:

  • Nearly 271,000 Canadians were truckers last year, the vast majority of them men.
  • Canada’s trucking industry employs fewer immigrants than other industries.
  • Four-fifths of truckers were employees, the rest owner-operators.
  • More than 60 percent of truckers worked directly for a company whose principal activity was freight transport.