- The trucking industry in the United States is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
- The US trucking industry accounts for more than 5% of all the full-time jobs in America, even though truckers themselves earn a lower-than-average wage.
- Here are 11 surprising facts about the US trucking industry.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The United States is hugely dependent on truckers.
Data show that trucking moves 71% of all the freight in America, and nearly 6% of all the full-time jobs in the country are in the trucking industry.
The industry employs millions of drivers and generates hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue. It serves as the vital lifeline between producers and consumers when it comes to everything from gasoline to gallons of milk.
While the trucking industry is now decades old, it remains dynamic, with constant demand from consumers keeping trucking as vital to the economy as ever.
Read on for 11 facts you might not know about the US trucking industry.
In 2017, the American trucking industry posted revenues higher than the GDP of more than 150 nations.
In 2017, the US trucking industry generated just over $700 billion. That was more than the entire GDP of Bangladesh, and slightly less than the GDP of Colombia, according to the CIA Factbook.
Were the industry a nation, it would have ranked 33rd in GDP that year.
Approximately 5.8% of all full-time jobs in America are related to trucking
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 there were about 129 million full-time jobs in America. That same year, approximately 7.4 million people were employed by the trucking industry. That means about 5.8% of all American full-time workers had a job thanks to trucking.
Read more: Here's an early glimpse into the autonomous trucking market - and how self-driving technology is disrupting the way goods are delivered
Walmart alone employs more than 8,600 truckers
In recent years, Walmart has been turning away from third-party contracts and employing its own truckers, including a hiring surge of more than 1,400 new drivers brought on in 2018 and hundreds more so far in 2019. Walmart truckers earn on average nearly $88,000 per year, CBS reported.
In 2017, trucks moved 10.8 billion tons of freight
According to American Trucking Associations, US trucks moved 10.8 billion tons of freight in 2017.
That equates to about 30 pounds worth of goods for every man, woman, and child in the country.
And trucks move more than 70% of all goods transported around the United States
Trucking accounts for the vast majority of freight in America, with trucks carrying almost 71% of the tonnage moved about the country. That far surpasses trains, boats, and air when it comes to moving cargo around the nation.
More than 40% of the jobs in the American trucking industry are held by minorities
Trucking is a surprisingly egalitarian industry, with 40.6% of all trucking jobs held by minorities. This far outpaces the national average when all jobs are compared - overall, minorities hold just 22% of jobs in this country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Not one of the regulators charged with overseeing the trucking industry was ever a truck driver
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is charged with managing the laws and regulations that control trucking in America. But not one of its four administrators has ever held a commercial driver's license or had any background in the trucking industry.
Most grocery stores would run out of food in just three days if long-haul truckers stopped driving
It might seem like food supplies on supermarket shelves are boundless, always there when you need them. But in fact, experts predict that most grocery stores would start running out of food just three days after long-haul truckers stopped working.
Many experts think the trucking industry needs to hire 900,000 more drivers
In 2018, the American Trucking Associations released a statement saying the industry needed to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet the growing demands put on the industry.
However, not everyone is agreement with the state of the industry. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report published earlier this year said the apparent shortage of drivers may actually be overblown.
Truck drivers earn less than most Americans in terms of annual income
Despite all the chatter about the growing trucking industry and the need for drivers, it's not the most lucrative line of work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, the median income was about $46,800 per year, while median annual wage for truckers was $43,680.
The average professional long-haul trucker logs more than 100,000 miles per year
Given restrictions on how many hours a driver can log in a given day (and in a given week), most drivers will average about 2,000 and 3,000 miles a week. Over the course of the year, that a trucker's mileage total can easily exceed 100,000 miles.
For comparison, the average US motorist drives about 13,500 miles a year.