Truck driver turnover has reached 95%. Driver pay has “plummeted” in the last 30 years. And the truck driver shortage has persisted for at least a decade.
The trucking industry could use some good news in 2018.
Luckily, there is a bright spot on the horizon. Analysts predict that 2018 is the year when driver wages will rise in a big way.
And a wage hike is long overdue. Pay for truck operators has failed to keep up with inflation since 1980. In that year, driver wages averaged $38,618 per year. In 2017 dollars, that’s a salary of $122,000.
Pay Starting To Rise
Drivers with private fleets are earning as much as 36% more than their for-hire counterparts, said Leah Shaver, COO of the National Transportation Institute (NTI).
Rates-per-mile in the third quarter of 2017 rose 1-2 cents, while some carriers raised rates 4-7 cents. And the NTI predicts that those higher jumps in per-mile pay will become more widespread in 2018.
The tax law signed by President Trump on December 22 is also making some carriers plan to raise driver pay.
According to a survey of American Trucking Association members, 50% of carriers plan to use any windfall from the tax law to either increase wages or to offer workers a one-time bonus.
Reasons For The Pay Hike
The two biggest reasons for this move to higher driver pay are a rise in demand and an aging labor pool.
The American Trucking Association calculates the driver shortage to currently sit at about 50,000 workers. And the NTI estimates that the average truck driver is about 52 years old. And there are fewer and fewer young people willing to get into the industry.
“Millennials today are totally disinterested in truck driving as a career,” said NTI founder Gordon Klemp. “…That’s why the aging of the driver pool is important – this is a tough job to take on.”
And the pool of qualified drivers continues to shrink as these workers retire.
According to Klemp, some carriers are offering referral bonuses for bringing in qualified drivers. Another strategy is sign-on bonuses for new drivers, which can be as high as $10,000.
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