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CH Robinson CEO reaches out to immigrants to address trucker shortage

The CEO of a US logistics company suggested on Wednesday that greater immigration to the United States could help ease the national shortage of truck drivers.

“If you look across the demographics of truck driving, there’s a very strong immigrant bias,” Robert Biesterfeld of CH Robinson Worldwide said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “Trucking is a great job for people who want to come to this country, start a business, and work for themselves.”

The American Trucking Associations estimates there will be a severe shortage of 80,000 truckers in the industry this year. That’s up more than 30% since 2018, long before the Covid pandemic began.

“The ATA estimates that over the next decade, we need to hire another million truckers to meet future demand,” Biesterfeld said on “Squawk on the Street.”

The shortage figures are the difference between the drivers currently in the market and the optimal number of drivers based on freight demand, the ATA explained in a press release.

Biesterfeld’s comments about how immigration could help the trucking industry echoed those of Domino’s Pizza CEO Ritch Allison about two weeks ago. “It’s a challenge. In the United States, with minimal population growth organically, we need immigration in our industry to continue to have enough team members,” Allison said on “Mad Money from CNBC.

As far as the eye can see, cargo trucks wait in long lines to enter the Port of Los Angeles as the port is scheduled to begin 24-hour operation on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 in San Pedro, California.

jason armond | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Millions of workers in many sectors quit their jobs in what employers have dubbed “The Great Resignation”. Employers blamed pandemic shutdowns, but many workers said they quit their jobs because employers didn’t treat them well or didn’t offer them enough flexibility, according to a CNBC report Many construction workers in Hollywood have used or plan to use their new leverage to demand better working conditions.

Immigration could help solve the truck driver shortage now, but to avoid future shortages, self-driving or self-driving trucks could become more common, Biesterfeld said. “We certainly think there’s going to be a more autonomous future in trucking. … We tend to think that’s a bit further in the future, but we’ll be ready for that as an organization.”

The Biden administration’s efforts to extend hours of operation at West Coast ports to address supply chain issues are great first steps, ‘but don’t clean up the entire supply chain. ‘supply,’ Biesterfeld said.

“We still have to deal with the shortage of chassis that exist in the port, the availability of drainage capacity to come in and pick up those containers, and then…we have to get capacity into the network to get them out of the ports. “, he said. “I think we’re going to continue to see these delays over the next few months.”

CH Robinson, with a market value of nearly $12.9 billion, closed down about 0.9% on Wednesday. The company beat Wall Street expectations on Tuesday with third-quarter earnings and revenue.

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