Experts say SC’s trucking industry is readjusting


USC research economist Von Nessen gives an update on the trucking industry in South Carolina, as consumers return to pre-pandemic spending.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — “I’m here for my CDL license,” said Renee Lawson. “And I’m hoping and praying that I get it.”
Lawson and Pshanda Singleton are two residents who took part in CDL day at the South Carolina Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
Drivers could take the tests required for commercial driver’s licenses and permits on the spot.
“Like nationwide, there was a heavy demand for truckers in the last couple of years,” said Mike Fitts, a spokesperson for South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). “Everyone I talk to expects that demand to continue in the years to come. We’ll need people to move all the freight around South Carolina.”
The DMV is hosting these events to help create more trained truckers in the state.
“All the industries in South Carolina, from manufacturing to shipping to distribution, need drivers,” Fitts said. “That’s a continuing challenge.”
USC research economist Dr. Joseph Von Nessen says in 2020 and 2021, people started buying goods rather than services due to the pandemic.
“And so that put pressure, on the transportation and trucking industries in particular, to get those goods to those consumers,” Von Nessen said. “And so as a result, the trucking industry saw a very sizable increase in demand.”
But now, Von Nessen says the trucking industry is re-adjusting and they’re seeing more of a balance between goods and services bought.
“One of the challenges when you see this tapering or this pullback in demand is that the trucking industry doesn’t want to lose employees,” Von Nessen said. “We’re facing a labor shortage. Across the board across all industry sectors in South Carolina, and to a large extent in the United States as a whole.”
Von Nessen says economists don’t expect to see another big spike in demand for goods like we saw during the pandemic, and expects population changes to help supply truckers.
“More people are projected to move to this region of the country than any other over the next two decades,” Von Nessen said. “And so even though the short run is a bit more uncertain from the perspective of the trucking industry, in the long run we’re very bullish about trucking and logistics in South Carolina.”


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