(CNN)The trucking industry is short 80,000 drivers, a record high, Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, tells CNN.
That's a 30% increase from before the pandemic, when the industry already faced a labor shortage of 61,500 drivers.
"That's a pretty big spike," Spear added. Many drivers are retiring, dropping out of the industry. Increased consumer demand, prompting a need for more drivers, also plays a big role in the shortfall.
This comes at a time when US ports are backlogged -- primarily because there are few trucks and drivers to pick up cargo -- creating a supply chain slowdown. President Biden directed the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to move to 24/7 operations. However, the ports can't yet work round the clock because importers don't have enough drivers to move their cargo at all hours.
"24/7 operations - it's an improvement," said Spear. "But it doesn't matter if it's a port in LA or Long Beach, or the last mile of delivery from a train to a warehouse in Wichita. You're going to have to have a driver and a truck move that freight."