Diverse, Labor-Hungry Industry Spells Opportunity for Struggling Communities

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Like the nation, the deep South faces a worsening truck driver shortage. To help meet local and regional demand, Roadmaster Drivers School is opening a new fulltime training facility in Jackson, Mississippi’s leading city.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a shortfall of 65,700 drivers for 2020, compared with 2019.

Ecommerce growth is dependent on matching growth in retail logistics and delivery capability, requiring steadily increasing numbers of truckers.

Like New York, Illinois, California, and several other states, Mississippi suffered a population decline in 2020, losing a net of 11,000 residents.(1) On the employment front, despite a mostly steady recovery from economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest federal employment report shows that Mississippi lost 7,000 jobs in January.(2) These declines, says Brad Ball, President, Roadmaster Drivers School, mask a significant opportunity: a serious national shortage of professional truck drivers. “There are people who need jobs, and jobs who need people,” says Ball. “Our new training center in Jackson, Mississippi is there to bring them together.”

The longstanding national truck driver shortage has recently worsened; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a shortfall of 65,700 drivers for 2020, compared with 2019.(3) Meanwhile, ecommerce, driven by COVID-mandated stay-at-home shopping, continues to skyrocket, increasing 44% in the U.S. in 2020 above 2019.(4) Ecommerce growth, notes Ball, is dependent on matching growth in retail logistics and delivery capability, requiring steadily increasing numbers of truckers.

On the local level, more than 85% of communities in Mississippi rely exclusively on trucks for the delivery of everyday goods. The state’s professional truck drivers travel more than 4.5 billion miles per year to deliver everything Mississippians communities rely on, including food, medication, clothing, and gasoline for their cars.(5) “Trucking,” says Ball, “is a Mississippi mainstay.”

A career in trucking does not require college training, Ball points out, applicants can either produce a high school diploma or pass a basic entrance exam. Unlike other opportunities for high-school graduates, such as fast food or retail, notes Ball, trucking offers steady, secure employment, higher income and a career path. Despite popular misconception, he adds, trucking is an increasingly diverse industry and one with no pay gap tied to race or gender. According to a recent American Trucking Association study, over 40% of U.S. truckers are now minorities.(7)

Training is relatively brief, about four weeks from beginning to end. In comparison to other educational opportunities, truck driver training is less expensive and Ball notes that the demand for new drivers is such that many trucking firms will reimburse students for tuition once hired.

On Friday, May 14 from 10 AM to 5 PM and Saturday, May 15 from 10 AM to 3 PM, city officials, prospective students, and the general public are warmly invited to the grand opening of the new Roadmaster Drivers School facility at 1500 West Highland Drive, Jackson, MS 39204. “Trucking,” says Ball, “is opportunity on wheels for thousands of soon-to-be-hired truck drivers. If you—or somebody you know—is looking for a stable, well-paid job, I urge you to come and talk to us. It might turn out to be the best thing you ever did.”

About Roadmaster Drivers School:
Roadmaster, headquartered in St. Petersburg, FL, is a nationwide training organization for truckers. They have nearly 30 years of experience training more than 150,000 graduates with 15 training locations nationwide. By focusing on giving students the best education and maintaining high job placement standards, Roadmaster has gained a national reputation in the trucking industry for quality training of entry-level commercial truck drivers—noted for their training practices to be the most hands-on and safety-focused training in the country. Roadmaster’s newest facility is at 1500 W. Highland Drive in Jackson, Mississippi. For more information, visit http://www.roadmaster.com.

1. Kittredge, Brett. “Mississippi's Population Decline Continues.” Empower Mississippi, 7 Jan. 2021, empowerms.org/mississippis-population-decline-continues/#:
2. DiNatale, Sara. “Mississippi Lost 7,000 Jobs Last Month. But Economist Says Outlook Still Positive.” Mississippi Today, 1 Apr. 2021, mississippitoday.org/2021/03/31/mississippi-unemployment-job-losses/.
3. Cassidy, William B. “Outlook 2021: Latest US Driver Shortage Requires Long-Term Solutions,” Journal of Commerce, January 20, 2021, joc.com/trucking-logistics/labor/outlook-2021-latest-us-driver-shortage-requires-long-term-solutions_20210120.html.
4. “US Ecommerce Grows 44.0% in 2020.” Digital Commerce 360, 1 Mar. 2021, digitalcommerce360.com/article/us-ecommerce-sales/.
5. Wilemon, Todd. “Trucking in Mississippi: We Need to Keep the Industry Thriving.” Mississippi Clarion Ledger, 9 Sept. 2019, clarionledger.com/story/opinion/columnists/2019/09/09/trucking-mississippi-we-need-keep-industry-thriving/2266644001/.
6. “Educational Attainment in Mississippi.” The Demographic Statistical Atlas of the United States - Statistical Atlas, statisticalatlas.com/state/Mississippi/Educational-Attainment.
7. Murphy, Byron. “How Diverse Is the Trucking Industry?” Convoy, 28 Jan. 2021, convoy.com/blog/diversity-in-trucking/#:

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