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Gear Up: Trucking Industry Facing Worker Shortages

“Yea I love this industry, this is all I know. I’ve been in trucks my whole life.”

Dave Pugliese spent 30 years driving trucks across America. Now, he teaches a new generation of freighters.

“We take people that have nothing, that have no place else to turn there not making any money,” Pugliese said. “Half of them are unemployed. We teach them in four weeks how to drive this truck.”

But Dave can’t teach drivers fast enough. There could be a shortage of 20,000 drivers in Florida alone. Nationwide that number is closer to 200,000.

The fact that there’s a dire need for truckers affects practically everything you eat and buy.

“Eighty-five percent of all cities and towns in Florida receive their goods only by truck,” Ken Armstrong with the Florida Trucking Association said.

And a shortage of items like groceries, electronics and everything else can drive up demand, causing prices to go up fast.

If you’re interested, it’s not too difficult to become a trucker.

“You need to take a written test. Pass a DOT physical,” Steven Johnson, the Admissions Director at Suncoast Trucking Academy, said. “Four weeks of training. Take your test.”

The cost for the training is about $6,500 for the four-week course.

“We’re talking $60,000 to $70,000 a year, your first year out of school,” Johnson said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the median pay for the industry is closer to $43,000, but there are highs and lows that determine the median.

Still, a lot of trucking companies are offering signing bonuses. Sometimes $5,000 or more.