- The skills gap has hit Omaha, Nebraska, where a shortage of drivers has forced Waste Management to adjust its operations and resulted in attempts to woo talent with job fairs and bonuses, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
- The company has postponed its promise to collect yard waste separately from household trash and deliver it to a compost plant. Instead, yard waste is being sent to the landfill; some have expressed concern that this violates the company's contract, but no penalties have been discussed.
- Waste Management is working to increase staffing levels through job fairs and offering signing bonuses. The company has offered $2,000 bonus for new hires that complete one year of service and $4,500 for experienced drivers.
Labor shortages are plaguing a variety of industries, as more businesses compete in a continually shrinking talent market. With unemployment at historic lows, finally dropping below 4% this month, employers face stiff competition for in-demand workers — and the problem may only get worse, at least one analyst projects.
On top of that, external forces may be tightening the workforce even further. Many industries, particularly in middle-skill markets, are seeing prime-age men leaving the workforce in droves, partly due to opioid addiction. The restaurant and hospitality industries are facing competition from the nascent marijuana industry. And an aging workforce has put serious pressure on employers to upskill those they have on hand.
As concerns around the commercial driver shortage grows in the trucking industry, automation has become a hot topic. Last year, an international report projected that autonomous vehicles could reduce the need for new U.S. and European truck drivers 50-70% by 2030. Additionally, during a panel at the recent WasteExpo event, Rubicon's Michael Allegretti hinted at the growing potential of autonomous technology, saying, “I think it is logical that our industry will be the first for autonomous trucks."