The American Trucking Associations released data from its latest Driver Compensation Study, available for purchase, showing driver pay has climbed as rising demand for freight transportation services has increased competition for increasingly scarce drivers.
“This latest survey, which includes data from more than 100,000 drivers, shows that fleets are reacting to an increasingly tight market for drivers by boosting pay, improving benefit packages and offering other enticements to recruit and retain safe and experienced drivers,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.
According to this most recent study, the median salary for a truckload driver working a national, irregular route was over $53,000 – a $7,000 increase from ATA’s last survey, which covered annual pay for 2013, or an increase of 15%. A private fleet driver saw their pay rise to more than $86,000 from $73,000 or a gain of nearly 18%.
In April, a survey completed by WorkHound consisted of data collected by anonymous drivers revealed that many feel they deserve additional or hazard pay while working on the front lines and continuing to take chances traveling across the country, interacting with strangers and in possible high-risk areas.
In addition, not all driver comments regarding pay were simply requesting more money. There was an emerging trend around deferrals for truck payments and tuition owed to companies for student drivers, WorkHound CEO Max Farrell noted. He added that a portion of commenters thanked their companies for any actions taken to support them financially—think bonuses and reimbursements for additional cleaning supplies.
In addition to rising pay, ATA's Costello said fleets were offering generous signing bonuses and benefit packages to attract and keep drivers.
“Our survey told us that carriers are offering thousands of dollars in bonuses to attract new drivers,” Costello said. “And once drivers are in the door, fleets are offering benefits like paid leave, health insurance and 401(k)s to keep them. This data demonstrates that fleets are reacting to concerns about the driver shortage by raising pay and working to make the job more attractive,” he said. “I expect that trend to continue as demand for trucking services increases as our economy grows.”
While this upturn in the economic growth of the trucking industry, the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic still continue to hit drivers the most.
Recently, married trucking couple Ron and Chanté Drew were featured in FleetOwner's weekly blog series, “Five Good Things,” and detailed their experience surviving COVID-19 in April and how it’s impacting them today.
“Almost 20 to 22 days, we have been off work,” Ron stated. “We got turned on to a resource called St. Christopher's Fund, which is for truck drivers. And they ended up making our rent payment for the month.”
In an interview with PBS, Chanté informed readers that “in fact, our rates have gone down since the pandemic started. So, we're making less overall than when this first started. And we just want to still be able to do our jobs. I just hope that people don't forget about it as time goes on.”
“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. Drivers are looking for their company to be reassuring that they will be taken care of,” WorkHound's Farrell had pointed out. “Drivers will remember how their companies responded during this time, and they will always remember how they felt during this pandemic.”