House lawmakers urge Labor secretary to speed truck driver training program to ease supply chain bottlenecks

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  • House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga. led more than 60 Democrats and Republicans to ask Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to accelerate recruitment of truck drivers to ease supply chain bottlenecks.
  • They want Walsh to fast-track the training of displaced workers, low-income individuals and unemployed youth.
  • Unless we exhaust all possible avenues to address this crisis, we risk supply shortages for manufacturers and rising consumer goods prices,” lawmakers wrote to Walsh.

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday urged Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to speed up a federal program recruiting and training new truck drivers to help ease the bottle neck of the supply chain that is disrupting the US economy. gives.

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House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., led more than 60 Democrats and Republicans from Walsh to expedite the application process for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant program, which seeks out disadvantaged job seekers in various industries. recruits. The program provides job training for displaced workers, low-income individuals and unemployed youth.

Lawmakers told Walsh on Wednesday that it could take weeks or months for applications to be approved, even if he had experience in long-distance trucking. The group urged Walsh to work with career centers across the country to accelerate this process.

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“With the turnover rate for large, long-distance truck drivers approaching the 90 percentage point and gaps for training and onboarding of new drivers lasting several months, it is critically important that the DoL implement these measures as quickly as possible. Do it,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Walsh. ,

Labor Department data released last December shows that more than 21,900 applicants to the program received training to drive trucks and tractor-trailers, according to the letter.

The American Trucking Association warned in a letter to the Biden administration last month that the industry was short of 80,000 drivers. The group supported Wednesday’s letter from lawmakers to Walsh.

Truckers have opposed President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses over concerns that truckers will leave, further complicating labor shortages.

“A global economy with a truck driver shortage in the United States is emerging from the pandemic, resulting in uneven economic recovery for millions of American households. Unless we exhaust all possible ways to address this crisis If we do, we run the risk of worsening supply barriers for manufacturers and rising prices on consumer goods,” the lawmakers wrote.

Inflation in the US hit a 30-year high in September, with prices rising 4.4% year over year. This was the fastest increase since 1991. Post-pandemic demand surges, as well as manufacturing delays and labor shortages, are driving prices up, making it more difficult to stock shelves.

Those factors have also created congestion at the country’s ports, with no respite this year. Goldman predicts that the problems will persist well into 2022.

“The backlog and high shipping costs are likely to persist through at least the middle of next year as there is no immediate solution to the underlying supply-demand imbalance at US ports,” Goldman economist Ronnie Walker said in a note to clients.

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