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Looking inside the EU: How many people work in transport?

There are almost 29 transport workers per 1 000 people in the EU.

About 10.8 million adults over the age of 15 worked in the transport sector in the EU in 2020. Compared to the number in 2019, it has decreased by 6%. (From 11.6 million to 10.8 million ).

Heavy truck and bus drivers make up 35% of those working in the transportation sector, followed by transport and storage workers (22%), car, van, and motorcycle drivers (19%), messengers, package carriers, luggage porters, and other clerical workers (12%), refuse workers (5%), locomotive engine drivers and related workers (3%), and travel attendants, conductors, and guides (3%).

Conductors and tour guides saw the biggest employment decline among transport jobs in 2020, followed by laborers in transportation and storage.

85 percent of the transport employees were men. In the EU, 37% of those working in the transportation sector were 50 years of age or older, and 36% were between the ages of 35 and 49. However, a somewhat lower percentage of them (29%) were under the age of 35.

In the EU, there were 29 transport workers for every 1000 persons on average in 2020, though regional differences affected this ratio. The south-eastern regions of the EU generally had the greatest rates, with South Muntenia in Romania topping the list with 65 transport workers per 1000 residents.

The three Bulgarian areas of North-West, North-Central, and South-Central, as well as the Central and Western Region in Lithuania, came after South-Muntenia.

The lowest number of transport workers per 1,000 people was found in Walloon Brabant, Belgium, closely followed by South Aegean, Greece, Burgenland, Austria, Melilla, Spain, and Calabria, Italy.

However, women are still not in the driving seat

Less than 3% of truck drivers were women in 2021 in all regions, with notable exceptions in China at 5% and the US at 8%. The rate of women bus and coach drivers in Europe was even better at 12%. However, these rates are all still well below transport sector norms, especially in Europe and the US where 22% and 28% of all transport workers respectively are women.

IRU’s annual driver shortage survey shows unfilled commercial driver positions continue to increase at alarming rates across the globe. 

Surveying more than 1,500 commercial road transport operators in 25 countries in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, IRU found that truck driver shortages increased in all regions in 2021 except Eurasia. 

In Europe, they jumped by 42% from 2020 to 2021, with open unfilled driver positions reaching 71,000 in Romania, 80,000 in both Poland and Germany, and 100,000 in the UK. In Mexico, shortages increased by 30% to reach 54,000; in China by 140% to reach 1.8 million. Higher driver wages in 2021, especially in Europe and the US, have not led to fewer shortages. 

IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said, “Chronic commercial driver shortages are getting worse, with millions of positions remaining unfilled. This is putting already stressed economies and communities at higher risk of inflation, social mobility issues, and supply chain meltdown.” 

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