Truck driver shortage could impact prices of consumer goods |

Truck driver shortage could impact prices of consumer goods

Megan Tomasic

Despite a national truck driver shortage, commercial driver’s license schools in the area are seeing an uptick in enrollments, thanks to incentives such as higher wages and better benefits.

But the push to mitigate the shortage could soon have an impact on the prices of consumer goods, said Kevin Steward, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association.

Some companies have gone as far as offering things such as internet access, safety technology and guaranteed time at home, he said.

“All that stuff comes with a price,” Stewart said.

The price comes in the form of higher freight fees, which could soon cause prices on toothpaste, diapers and detergent to rise. Companies such as Martin-Brower Co., Proctor & Gamble Co., Church & Dwight Co. and Hasbro Inc. have indicated prices could rise because of higher freight fees, Bloomberg News reported.

The driver shortage is continuing despite the incentives, said Angela Isabelle, CDL program chair for All-State Career in West Mifflin. Isabelle said she often sees big companies struggling to fill truck driver positions, a trend she attributes to the growing number of college-bound students.

Isabelle said it’s important to encourage high school students to attend trade schools rather than sending each student to a four-year college.

The trend is shifting, however, with several students studying for their CDL at All-State Career and other area schools including PA Pride in Cranberry and Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center in New Stanton.

“I think people are looking for better-paying jobs than what’s out there,” she said. “They’re coming here wanting to make better money.”

Mike Beers, program manager at PA Pride, said CDL trends tend to change when the economy changes, meaning the school sees higher enrollments when the economy is bad and lower enrollments when the economy is good.

“It’s usually a last-ditch effort to find a job,” Beers said, adding people don’t want to spend time away from their families or spend close to $5,500 for CDL training.

Schools are starting to offer incentives, such as grants to give more people the opportunity to earn a CDL.

At the Douglas Education Center in Monessen, a new grant program caters toward fathers or father figures who work at a company and want to get their CDL license to help in their daily jobs.

According to Ed Roberts, CDL director at Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, a common misconception with truck drivers is that each job is a cross-country trip. However, there are short-haul companies in need of drivers and jobs handling warehouse equipment available.

Roberts said he has seen higher enrollment rates into the CDL program, with people coming from all walks of life.

Enrolled students at PA Pride, Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center and All-State Career tend to be between the ages of 30 and 50. At Central Westmoreland, Roberts said he gets students from all walks of life, with some as young as 18.

Isabelle said she gets students in their 70s or 80s and recently retired people who are looking for something to do.

“If people get the proper training and want to put in the effort, they can make a good living and make a good retirement,” Isabelle said.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

file photo
A truck driver walks to his truck at the Flying J Travel Plaza near Smithton.
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