The problem is retention. Many of those licensed drivers are no longer behind the wheel because they can find better working conditions and pay elsewhere.

The U.S. is facing a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers, warned the American Trucking Associations (ATA), an industry group representing big US trucking companies, on Oct. 25. It’s a warning they’ve more or less repeated every year since 2005. But it’s particularly worrying in the middle of a global supply chain crisis when there aren’t enough truckers to haul goods out of jam-packed ports. Quartz cuts to the core of the problem:

This driver shortage argument has appeared repeatedly in news stories examining why the gears of the global economy are grinding to a halt. Executives at publicly traded companies have referenced the “driver shortage” in at least 45 calls with investors in the past month alone, according to data from Factset.

But the assertion that the US is suffering from the latest round of a 16-year truck driver shortage is misleading at best. About 2 million Americans work as licensed truck drivers, and states issue more than 450,000 new commercial driver’s licenses every year, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. In fact, it’s the most common job in 29 states.

The problem is retention. Many of those licensed drivers are no longer behind the wheel because they can find better working conditions and pay elsewhere. Jobs in factories, construction sites, and warehouses pay similar wages, and don’t require people to work 70-hour weekssleep in parking lots, or wait in line for hours without pay or bathroom breaks to pick up a container at an overwhelmed port.

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