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Three Trucks In An Interchange

The amazing story behind trucking numbers

Dec. 16, 2021
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public got the message: Our industry kept shelves stocked. Yet trucking and drivers continue to be essential to the full functioning of our economy.

Statistics from American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) American Trucking Trends 2021 report remind me just how vital trucking is to the nation.

Here are some numbers from the ATA report to ponder:

  • 10.23 billion tons of freight
  • $732.3 billion in revenue
  • 7.65 million people employed
  • 70.9% of surface trade between the U.S. and Canada moved by trucks

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public got the message as well. Our industry kept shelves stocked with all the things we wanted and needed while we were stuck at home, brought PPE to medical facilities and essential businesses, and delivered doses of the vaccine to various distribution points.

But the public probably has a short memory. Those feats likely have long faded in the minds of average Americans—yet trucking and truckers continue to be essential to the full functioning of our economy.

See also: Happy holidays, from the supply chain

One of the statistics from ATA’s report that really stuck with me is that 91.5% of fleets operate six or fewer trucks and 97.4% operate less than 20. We’re an industry of small businesses. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), these businesses account for 49.2% of private-sector employment and for 64% of the net new jobs created. Those small trucking firms provide good well-paying jobs for the communities from which they operate. And these jobs are not just truck driving or commercial vehicle technician jobs. They include office jobs, maintenance jobs, administrative positions, etc.

The largest trucking companies in the United States all started with one truck. In 1961, Johnnie Bryan Hunt founded J.B. Hunt, which is now a publicly traded company generating more than $3 billion in revenue annually that employs almost 30,000 people.

Transportation companies always have been essential, and those of us who work in the industry did not need a pandemic for proof of this. Every day, the more than 13 million people who work in the transportation sector provide each of us with everything we need to live. If you look around your office or home right now, every physical thing you see was on a truck at some point.

All 13 million of us need to be proud of what we do for our country, and when someone asks what you do for a living, tell them you work in one of the most essential industries in the world.

With the holiday season upon us, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to talk trucking. I hope you will use this time to share some statistics and, more importantly, to share your experience being part of this great industry.

Patrick Gaskins, SVP of Corcentric Fleet Solutions, oversees both sales and operations for the company's fleet offerings. Gaskins joined the company in 2010, bringing more than 30 years of experience as a financial services professional in the transportation industry. He leads a team that works with a supply base of more than 160 manufacturers to help the country’s largest fleets manage all aspects of their fleet operations and fleet-related spend.

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