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Trucking industry struggles to find workers in the Coastal Bend

Companies are now boosting pay and benefits because they can't find enough qualified drivers.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Another industry in the Coastal Bend struggling to find workers is the trucking industry. Companies are now boosting pay and benefits because they can't find enough qualified drivers. One local college's trucking school is reporting a waiting list for trucking students.

Johnny Leiva, a Del Mar truck driving student, became a student to follow his mom's career as an independent hazmat trucking business owner. The timing is also good because there is now a serious nationwide shortage of truck drivers.

Wall Street Journal reporter Jennifer Smith, who just published an article about the shortage, says it may lead to a salary hike. 

"Some of the biggest trucking companies have been raising pay for drivers particularly for less experienced drivers and that's bumping up what they could pay One big company bumped up pay. I think it amounted to about a 40 percent wage increase."

Smith says for some that could mean a starting salary of $60,000 a year.

Clint Curry, president of Trout Trucking in Robstown, says the shortage might be blamed on government good intentions.  

"We've had quite a few drivers come in and say we'll come back to work when the unemployment benefits stops," Curry said. 

Curry says higher pay isn't the only incentive.   

"We have drivers come in and we ask them, you know, do you want to run over the road, stay out, we have the opportunity to drive Texas and the surrounding states," Curry added.

While drivers may be in short supply, interest in truck driving careers is through the roof according to one local school.  "If you were to sign up today for a class, the next available is June 7th."

John Rojas director of transportation training services at Del Mar College, says most of his students are offered jobs before they finish the course.

As for Johnny, hearing about higher pay makes the decision to go to school even better.  "Coming from construction making 30, 40 thousand a year, being in a truck and doing what I like, driving, I think that would be a good thing."

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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