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Cross-border truck freight on the rise as driver shortage worsens

Brittany De Lea

Trucks carried the vast majority of goods back and forth across the United States’ northern and southern borders in September, new government data shows, at a time when the trucking industry is desperately looking for more qualified workers.

About $64 billion worth of goods – or more than 63 percent – of all cross-border freight was moved by truck, including 70 percent between the U.S. and Mexico ($35.1 billion), as reported by the Bureau of Transportation.

About 56 percent of goods exchanged with Canada were transported by truck, a 1.1 percent increase from September 2018.

The top three commodities that were transported by truck during the month were computers and parts, electrical machinery and vehicle parts.

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The next most popular transport methods were rail, followed by pipeline, air and vessel.

The two busiest ports for U.S. trade, overall, were Los Angeles and Port Laredo – located in Texas.

Compared to the same period last year, transport by truck was up more than 1 percent at a time when the industry is facing a swelling driver shortage.

The industry was short about 60,800 drivers in 2018, a roughly 20 percent increase from the year prior. If current trends continue, the shortage is expected to balloon to more than 160,000 by 2028. Over the next decade, the industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers, many of whom will be needed to replace older and retiring workers.

As previously reported by FOX Business, one way the industry is looking to combat the driver shortage is by marketing more heavily toward women. The industry is also trying to get rules changed to allow drivers under the age of 21 to be able to transport goods across state lines.

Total transborder freight dropped 0.2 percent year over year, to $101.4 billion, as President Trump campaigns to get a new trade agreement among the U.S., Canada and Mexico (USMCA) approved.

The trade agreement is on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, according to Trump. Pelosi was expected to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday after she said during a press conference that she was not sure there was enough time to come to an agreement before the end of the year.

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