Despite jobless claims being at a 52-year low, many jobs in the country remain vacant. Currently, it seems that many of those vacant jobs are in industries connected to the supply chain.
Before the holiday season, corporations like Walmart and Amazon went on hiring sprees in hopes of staffing their warehouses and distribution centers. Likewise, airlines are feeling the pinch. Supply and staff shortages have caused countless delays and canceled flights. As a potentially bad winter looms, vacancies in one industry are causing concern. The United States is facing a snowplow driver shortage.
According to The Associated Press, several state transportation departments are having trouble recruiting anyone to operate their snowplows. The report says that Montana, Washington, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania are all facing a shortage of snowplow drivers.
The Montana Department of Transportation’s maintenance administrator, Jon Swartz wants people in his state to be aware of the snowplow driver shortage. Right now, MDOT is short about 90 snowplow operators. “We want the traveling public to understand why it could take longer this season to clear highways during winter storms,” Swartz said. He then added, “Knowing this helps motorists to plan ahead and adjust or even delay travel plans.”
Why Is There a Snowplow Driver Shortage?
There are several reasons for the shortage of snowplow drivers. For one, one needs a CDL to operate a snowplow. At the same time, the job demands odd hours in bitterly cold temperatures. Additionally, state departments can only pay so much. As a result, those with the qualifications to operate snowplows are looking at jobs with private companies that offer higher salaries and better work-life balances.
Snowplows aren’t the only vehicles sitting empty right now, there is also a shortage of truck drivers. As a result, competition for those with CDLs is stiff. The American Trucking Association estimates a shortage of truckers this year with its own set of causes and effects. As a result, private trucking companies are doing all they can to keep their rigs on the road and freight moving.
More Snowplow Issues
Some states are fighting against the snowplow driver shortage. They’re offering to pay for CDL training for new hires. However, those new hires still need to be trained to operate the plows, load trucks with sand and salt, and learn their route. Other states plan to shift their full-time mechanics and other employees with CDLs to snowplow positions. However, that presents its own set of problems. For instance, if the mechanic is out driving a plow and another breaks down, no one will be available to do maintenance on the plow.
For now, those in typically snowy states should prepare for travel and commerce to slow this winter as storms mount across the country.