COVID-Era Trucking Boom Turns to Bust: Personal Stories

As shipping rates fall, many who started trucking companies during the pandemic, like Arnesha Barron, are facing financial hardship. Discover their stories.

COVID-Era Trucking Boom Turns to Bust: Personal Stories
Photo: Tamara Reynolds for NBC News

Arnesha Barron, a single mother of three, leveraged the surge in shipping rates during the Covid-19 pandemic to start her own trucking company, making up to $20,000 a month in profit. However, as shipping rates have plummeted over the past year, Barron and thousands of other trucking operators have struggled financially. Approximately 15,000 trucking companies, primarily single-truck owner-operators, have shut down since October 2022, and it's estimated another 2,000 may need to exit the market to balance supply and demand.

Barron's monthly profits fell drastically from $20,000 in March 2022 to just over $3,300 by July of the same year due to soaring fuel prices and decreased demand. Unable to cover her family's expenses and loan payments for her truck, Barron had to surrender her truck, losing her $4,000 down payment and incurring a $7,000 penalty for returning the vehicle.

The increased demand for drivers in 2020 and 2021, driven by Americans spending stimulus checks and a booming housing market, enticed many into the trucking industry. However, as consumer spending has shifted and demand decreased, the industry now faces a precarious situation.

Source: NBC News

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