Average truck driver pay in the U.S. is up 17% in less than two years, as freight haulers fight to meet hiring needs, reports the Wall Street Journal:
After years of spending long hours behind the wheel without seeing their paychecks grow, U.S. truck drivers now have employers fighting for their services.
Many freight haulers have in the past year pushed through their biggest raises in decades. Truck-stop job boards and satellite radio airwaves are saturated with want ads, some offering sign-on bonuses topping $5,000 and free bus tickets to drivers willing to switch employers. Companies are equipping their fleets with satellite televisions and other amenities to make life on the road more comfortable.
It is a bonanza for drivers like Alex Topolse. The 34-year-old Auburn, Maine, resident said he went from flipping burgers and doing seasonal warehouse work to driving a chemical tanker truck in 2013. He said he liked the work but moved to a company based closer to home—and was offered a 50% raise. He said he has already received two small raises with his new employer and is on track to earn nearly $70,000 this year.
“It was a lot better income for doing basically the same job, hauling the same product and going to the same customers,” Mr. Topolse said. “It just made sense.”
Drivers are in demand in the shifting $700 billion trucking industry. Business is booming because the economy is expanding and the strong dollar is increasing demand for imported goods that must be transported from ports to cities and towns nationwide, though growth has cooled recently. At the same time, interest in the profession is waning.
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