In an age of high energy costs and constricted supply, inflation and unemployment rose together. Forced to choose, governments and central banks decided to prioritise controlling inflation. Western governments made it harder for trade unions to strike, curtailing the ability of workers to demand higher wages. The US Federal Reserve then administered a severe monetary shock to the world economy. In driving interest rates up to exceptionally high levels, Paul Volcker, the chair of the Federal Reserve, accelerated the de-industrialisation of most Western economies.
This will affect the road haulage industry substantially, which already suffers from a HGV driver shortage of 59 thousand drivers according to an October 2019 FTA report. Government statistics show that there are approximately 300 thousand HGV drivers in the UK3, meaning if 20% of drivers are off sick at once, this will effectively temporarily double the driver shortage to 120 thousand. What this could mean on a short-term basis is that there is a marked increase in subcontracting out jobs to other hauliers, as some hauliers will be much harder hit than others in terms of driver numbers – due to various factors such as regional considerations and timing.