Portland Press Herald: Trucking is a vital engine powering Maine economy

Trucks – we see them every day. We ride alongside them on Interstates 95 and 295, major local thoroughfares for commerce in the Pine Tree State. The professional truck drivers we see on our roads are delivering the items we rely on every day: food, clothing and medical supplies to counties and towns throughout the state.

Next week, as our country celebrates National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, let us not forget the sacrifices and strides these hardworking men and women of the professional trucking industry make every day to move America. After all, trucking is the only industry that directly ships to every community in America, rain or shine

Eighty-four percent of Maine communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods. And trucks are moving 90 percent of the total manufactured tonnage in the state – that’s 133,500 tons daily.

The fact is fewer trucks on the road would mean more expensive products, less interstate commerce and slower deliveries. Remove trucking altogether and essential cargo would not arrive to our doorsteps at all.

Trucking is an economic engine driving our communities. In Maine, the trucking industry means jobs. In 2013, the industry accounted for 29,780 jobs – one out of every 16 jobs in the state – contributing to the nearly 7 million people employed in trucking jobs nationwide.

With an average annual industry salary of over $34,055, professional drivers are a large part of Maine’s economic growth. Total industry wages paid in Maine in 2013 exceeded $1.2 billion.

Add these benefits together, and trucking is one of our best-kept secrets. So next time you’re traveling the interstate and a semi passes by, it’s a good reminder that you’re looking at a vital machine powering Maine’s economy.

Kevin Burch

co-chair, Trucking Moves America Forward; president, Jet Express Inc.

Dayton, Ohio