Story by Fatima Rahmatullah
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Unemployment rates in the Tennessee Valley have been hovering near double-digits for some time now, but truck drivers in the region are heavily needed.

A study for the Tri-State Regional Workforce Alliance shows truck driving is among the growing occupations in Hamilton County.

"So, truck driving was the fit. I wanted to travel a little bit and they pay good," says Henry Warren, truck driver.

Henry Warren is a 53-year-old man who retired three years ago after working 21 years as a power plant mechanic. He tried to get back into the industry, but it was difficult.

"I looked around. Basically with the economy the way it is a lot of people is not hiring right now. It's tough. So, truck driving was hiring and it's kind of a fun job," says Warren.

He says he gets to see and meet a lot of people while driving. Patrick Quinn is the President and Co-Chairman of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, one of the largest trucking companies in the southeast region. He says there's a need for compliant truck drivers.

"There's an aging driver population. There's a shortage of qualified drivers coming, because of changing government regulations and the estimates from the American Trucking Association are that we will need up to 400,000 drivers in the next four years," says Quinn.

Yes, 400,000 drivers in four years. According to the Workforce Alliance, truck driving is already the single biggest occupation in Hamilton County. In the southeast, nearly 1,200 truckers are needed in the next few years.

"These are good jobs, they're good paying jobs, they're jobs that will not go to China or India or other countries that will stay in the U.S. They're long-term career opportunities," says Quinn.

Warren says there are some downsides to his new job, too.

A lot of driving, long hours and there's anxiety to drive in bad weather conditions.