JOC: Driver Pay, Turnover Rising

The number of US truck drivers switching motor carriers is on the rise, as is driver pay, with truckload carriers rolling out double-digit percentage pay increases, reports the Journal Of Commerce.

A year-over-year shortfall of drivers and high freight demand make truck drivers a hot commodity across the transportation landscape.

“Driver pay continues to rise as competition for drivers is intense,” American Trucking Associations (ATA) chief economist Bob Costello said.

In the third quarter, the driver turnover rate at large truckload carriers rose to 92 percent, according to ATA. At smaller truckload carriers, those with less than $30 million in annual revenue, truck driver turnover rose 14 points to 74 percent in the third quarter. “Ironically, turnover bouncing back is a good sign for the economy and for trucking,” Costello said.

Even at 92 percent, truck driver turnover rates are still lower than the averages of 2019, which was a much slower year for trucking overall, ATA data shows. That is because the drop in truck driver turnover in the second quarter, the height of the US economic recession, was so deep.

“The second-quarter drop was almost entirely the result of COVID,” Costello said. “With scientific light at the end of the tunnel, it is possible we will see continued strong freight demand into 2021 and corresponding increases in demand for truck drivers.”

Finding those drivers may take some time. As of November, US for-hire trucking companies carried 55,800 fewer employees on their payrolls than in November 2019, as measured by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The year-over-year gap in trucking employment has narrowed since May, when it stood at 103,700 employees, but remains significant.

Will multiple pay raises keep drivers seated in their truck cabs? They may, in the short term. However, driver pay has risen by 10 percent or more before, and yet the driver problem remains.

Full JOC story here.

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