The case for the $100,000 a year trucker

Feb. 19, 2016
Without a financial incentive to leave home for extended periods, truck drivers will be hard to find

A truck driver pulled down a $32,500 average salary in 1975, according to the Bureau of Labor Satistics. To have that same purchasing power in 2015, that same trucker should have earned $149,179.11 per year. The average income in 2015 for a truck driver was $40,000.

The median price for a home across the U.S. in 1975 was right around $40,000; the average price for a new car, $3,800. Now let's move to 2015. The median price for an existing home in the U.S. in 2015 according to the National Assn. of Realtors was $224,100. According to the Kelley Blue Book, the average cost of a new car in 2015 was $33,560.

So in 40 years, the average income of a trucker has increased by 17%. In the same period of time, two of the most costly purchases a trucker will make in his/her lifetime ; a home and a car, have increased by 560% and 883% respectively.
The annualized turnover rate at large truckload carriers rose 13 points to 100% in the third quarter of 2015, the highest it has been in three years, according to ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a recent press release.

David Edge of The Edge CDL Consulting Group, tackled three points about the turnover rate in a recent article titled, “Quit Stretching the Truth About Turnover.” Edge wrote:

Herein lies the problem, we as an industry want to complain about problems but when solutions are offered we want to pretend there is no problem. Why, I think it is several reasons. Recruiters and managers think if they actually work to fix the problem they will not have a job in the future. There is always a need to recruit we just need to recruit smarter not putting warm butts in seats. Number 2 it is too hard of a problem to solve so let’s just keep doing what we have been doing and see how it goes. Number 3 if it cost money to fix, We can promote Joe or Mary from recruiting just get someone in our company already so we don't it have to pay an outsider that can actually fix the problem.(sic)

As we can tell from the different statistics and remarks, this is a problem with multiple causes, meaning it'll take several well-coordinated solutions.
I think the most telling statement concerning the situation is the one concerning recruiting departments' fears that they may just put themselves out of a job if they actually solve the problem. It's very likely this is a part of the problem, since even with all the seminars and all the discussions concerning the need to attract quality people to the industry and then giving them a viable set of reasons to stay – it just hasn't occurred. It's like recruiting departments are throwing bandages on a wound that requires a tourniquet. In other words they are doing the same thing; arguably perhaps with a few changes, but mostly maintaining status quo.

This is much like our pharmaceutical industry, where instead of curing a disease, it develops medications to provide relief but never a cure, for fear it'd cure themselves out of business.

The fact is the industry will continue to have a shortage of truck drivers and high turnover rates as long as they refuse to look outside the box for their solutions. You want quality applicants to fill those empty seats? Then you need to look seriously at how much you pay them. All the creature comforts in the world placed into a truck cab will not keep a driver in that truck if the money to the house isn't substantial enough for him or her to be financially stable.

If you want people to leave the comfort of home for weeks at a time (or even for one week) they need to earn substantially more than they would earn at a quality trade, in which they come home each night and have weekends off to enjoy their personal lives.
Looks like it's going to take a whole new paradigm to solve this problem, or you'll need to stop calling it a problem that “needs” to be solved. Providing creature comforts is all well and good, but if the person driving your truck can't pay his/her bills and save for the future, the job becomes worthless. If they are unable to justify to their family that being gone for days and/or weeks at a time is worth it to the family, the job is worthless. If a trucker can't buy a home or is unable to purchase a late or new model car, then what's the incentive to drive a truck?

Make it possible for a trucker to earn $100,000 per year and you'll fill every left seat you have available and have others standing in line to take the next available truck driver position.

To contact, Brady go to or call 731-749-8567.

About the Author

Timothy Brady

Timothy Brady is an author, columnist, speaker and business coach who provides information, training and educational presentations for small to large trucking companies, logistics organizations and community groups. He’s the business editor for American Trucker Magazine, the “Answer Guy” for trucking education website, an author and business editor for Write Up The Road Publishing & Media and freelance journalist. An expert in crafting solutions to industry challenges after 25 years in trucking, Brady’s held positions from company driver to owner-operator to small trucking business owner. Along with sales and business management, he has a well-rounded wealth of experience and knowledge.

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