Despite tough economy one industry needs thousands of workers
Despite a national unemployment rate above 8%, there's one industry that has tens of thousands of job openings and no one to fill them.
Right now there are about 200,000 job openings nationwide for semi-truck drivers according to the Truckload Carriers Association. Companies say they can't find enough people who want to fill those jobs.
Grand Traverse Trucking President, Rick Nottke says, "We usually have one opening at any given time. In our industry it is rare to have all our trucks filled."
The pay isn't bad either, truckers earn between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. While the jobs are heavy in demand by companies, it doesn't seem to be very high in demand for job seekers even in the face of high unemployment.
Way Transportation President, Scott Way says, "There are always jobs available. You may have to take a job that puts you far away from home but the industry is consistent with job openings. There is an 80% turnover rate."
The shortage is due to a number of factors. Trucking is a relatively easy job to train for, but the training can cost up to $6,000 on average. While the companies do reimburse drivers they hire, it is a large upfront investment.
Drivers can be on the road for two weeks at a time, something that doesn't work for many families, even if they don't have a steady income.
Nottke says, "What I found is that the applicants that come through have used up their unemployment benefits. I think as long as they are being paid not to work it is hard for them to justify leaving their families for two weeks at a time."