The US trucking industry is 80,000 drivers short to support the nation's massive supply chain, according to a report on Thursday.
While the figure is a record, it is also a 30% increase compared to the pre-pandemic level when the industry had a labor shortage of 61,500 drivers.
"That's a pretty big spike," American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear told CNN.
He noted that truck drivers move 71% of the goods in the American economy but represent just 4% of the vehicles on all roads.
The shortage of truck drivers comes as some are leaving the sector or retiring, against the rising demand for consumer goods and their transportation.
Supply chain bottlenecks have become a major issue in the post-pandemic period, while US ports are also backlogged with fewer drivers.
The ATA announced Tuesday its advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.4% in September -- the largest gain in 2021.
"The drivers of truck freight, including retail, construction, and manufacturing, plus a surge in imports, are helping keep demand high for trucking services," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement.
Without any more driver additions, the US trucking industry is on track to have a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2030, while the sector will need 1 million more drivers in the next decade, according to ATA.