The White House organized a meeting of business executives to discuss semiconductor supply chains amid a global chip shortage. Boosting American manufacturing and the supply chain is a major component of the Biden infrastructure plan which seeks to invest $50 billion in the semiconductor industry. However, that is a long-term plan. In the short term, manufacturers need solutions.
The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) asserted that the current supply constraints for semiconductors are causing manufacturers to adjust and suspend truck production. “At a time when trucking companies are requesting many new highly-reliable trucks to enable them to meet freight shipping demands without delay, truck manufacturers are unable to produce enough trucks to meet that demand,” EMA asserted. “Additionally, the semiconductor supply constraints risk manufacturers’ ability to produce sufficient aftermarket repair parts to keep existing trucks on the road.”
Auto executives started warning of a chip shortage last year. Those warnings quickly became temporary plant closures for the auto industry, with tens of thousands of layoffs. Help may be on the way as Intel is in talks to produce chips for automakers, but that is still six to nine months away.
Not only does the semiconductor shortage threaten the post Covid-19 economic recovery but it may greatly impact the effectiveness of the proposed infrastructure package. The plan, as proposed looks to be a boon for the trucking industry, an industry that heroically ensured stores were stocked, hospitals were supplied, and first responders were equipped during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. A report by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) states that, jobs for commercial drivers of heavy trucks and light truck/delivery drivers would account for 1.9 million and 901,300 jobs, respectively for about 2.81 million jobs total. That would translate to around 20 percent of the 15 million estimated jobs.