Trucking Companies Boost Pay in Hunt for Drivers as Demand Surges

Discussion in 'Truckers News' started by autopaint, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. autopaint

    autopaint Light Load Member

    Jul 26, 2019
    U.S. trucking companies are scrambling to hire more drivers as roaring consumer demand and tight shipping capacity stoke a resurgent freight market.

    Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc., the largest truckload carrier in North America, is the latest trucking company to raise pay. It said last week that its wages for recently certified drivers have jumped by 40% or more in recent months.

    The company said its driving-school graduates are on track to earn more than $60,000 a year in their first year after training. Median pay for heavy-truck and tractor-trailer drivers last year was $47,130, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Yellow Corp. , one of the biggest U.S. trucking companies, hired nearly 2,000 drivers and dock workers in the first quarter of 2021, and is holding some 24 recruiting events between now and July. The company has 14 driving academies and plans to open more. Yellow is also holding pop-up schools for smaller groups at some freight terminals.

    “We need more drivers and we need them now,” Yellow Chief Executive Officer Darren Hawkins said. “Demand is strong, capacity is tight, and we’re going to be in hiring mode” at least through the end of 2021.

    Trucking demand began surging last summer as the U.S. economy started to emerge from lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and as retailers and manufacturers rushed to restock pandemic-depleted inventories. Transport demand built up additional steam into the holidays as bottlenecks at busy ports led to freight backlogs, and it hasn’t let up since.

    Analysts expect shipping volumes to stay strong as the economy kicks into higher gear on new government pandemic aid and increased Covid-19 vaccination rates. That will put pressure on freight pricing as shippers compete for a limited supply of available trucks, and carriers boost pay and bonuses in an effort to meet the demand.

    “In our view, this is the tightest driver market we have seen in our nearly three decades of being involved in the trucking sector,” Cowen & Co. transport analyst Jason Seidl wrote in an April 12 research note.

    Three-quarters of carriers responding to a Cowen survey in the first quarter of this year said they believe they will have to increase driver pay this year, compared with 50% in the same period in 2020.

    Per-mile truckload costs rose 8.1% in February from the previous year, the biggest annual increase since October 2018, according to Cass Information Systems Inc., which handles freight payments for companies.

    The swings are even sharper on trucking’s spot market, where shippers book last-minute transportation and pricing tends to be more volatile. The ratio of available loads to trucks more than doubled in March from the previous year, according to online freight marketplace DAT Solutions LLC, while the average cost to hire a big rig rose by 41.9%, to $2.65 a mile.

    Trucking companies are splashing out on new equipment as they hustle to expand capacity. Fleets placed 126,500 net orders for heavy-duty trucks in the first quarter, more than triple the level of the same period last year, according to preliminary figures from transportation data firm ACT Research.

    Getting drivers to fill those seats has been challenging, trucking executives say. As of March, overall employment in the sector was down by 33,500 jobs, compared with the same month in 2020, when the pandemic hit the U.S.

    Some drivers parked their trucks in the early months of the pandemic as transport demand plummeted and workers might have feared getting sick. Industry executives say enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks have curbed driver availability. A federal database rolled out last year that tracks drug or alcohol use violations by holders of commercial driver’s licenses could also be limiting the pool of potential workers, they say.

    “We anticipate further wage action will be necessary this year just to maintain current fleet size,” Jack Atkins, a transportation analyst with investment bank Stephens Inc., wrote in a research note last month.

    But trucking companies face longstanding challenges recruiting and retaining workers for a profession that involves long periods on the road. Fleets are also competing for labor with sectors like construction, where strong demand in the housing market is creating additional jobs that don’t require days or weeks away from home.

    It takes time for carriers to ramp up hiring once it becomes clear that strengthening demand “has legs,” said ACT President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth, adding, “It’s not a driver shortage; it is a driver-pay shortage.”

    Mr. Vieth said it could take until early next year “before the driver supply starts finally catching up with the freight to be hauled.”

    Trucking Companies Boost Pay in Hunt for Drivers as Demand Surges
    rachi and bzinger Thank this.
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  3. LoboSolo

    LoboSolo Medium Load Member

    Jun 21, 2013
    Highway 20
    Here's some ideas for recruiting experienced, good drivers that won't cost the company a penny. It's about trusting that driver you just hired. If their experience comes with bad results, don't hire them in the first place.

    1. Put a manual transmission in the truck. That ####### truck salesman sold you a lie. Truck salesmen are a dime a dozen, get yourself a new one. (after all, thats what the salesman said when you said your drivers didn't like automatics. But ooooh, look at the mileage this brochure says yer gonna get with an automatic.......)

    2. Get rid of the idiot electronic doodads that can unexpectedly brake a truck, or do something to the truck contrary to what the captain of the ship ( the driver) wants that truck to do when they want to do it. Those doodads ARE NOT SAFE.

    3. Raise the governed speed to 72 mph, or get rid of the governor entirely. If a driver abuses your trust, then you govern them or fire them. Just make the rules of the game clear to everyone upfront.

    4. It's fine to want your drivers to get good fuel mileage. But why don't your salesmen get better rates for the freight you're hauling, so you don't have to worry as much about fuel mileage, or screw with your drivers' pay? Tell those companies that pay jack squat rates to go pound sand. If no one wants to haul at their lowball rates, somethings gonna change.
  4. sevenmph

    sevenmph Road Train Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Indianapolis, In
    What I read is drivers are in a position to demand higher wages and better working conditions.
  5. buzzarddriver

    buzzarddriver Road Train Member

    Feb 1, 2011
    Dallas, TX
    Long article but not one verified case of what increase of drivers pay was at any company. They could have checked at a few companies to see what increase in pay per miles actually was.
    Bud A. Thanks this.
  6. Harry Flashman

    Harry Flashman Medium Load Member

    Oct 4, 2019
    I worked at Knight five years ago and what made me leave were 2 things

    1. Constantly screwing me out of detention pay and miscellaneous fees that shipper/recievers charge for entry

    2. Low mile loads with a lot of BS. The five stop load from Phoenix to LA that took 3 days to complete and paid only $15 for each stop.
    '88K100 Thanks this.
  7. BigBob410

    BigBob410 Road Train Member

    Feb 2, 2016
    Baltimore, MD.
    What I read is these companies are going to do a “mirror test” and you fog it you drive!! There are already tons of unsafe drivers speeding thru your local truck stop and local roads with no regard for anyone’s safety! I don’t believe so much that there is a driver shortage. I believe there is a lack of efficiency amongst current companies. I do believe though that there is a shortage of GOOD drivers!
  8. JC1971

    JC1971 Road Train Member

    Jul 29, 2013
    "Make up to $70,000 per year!"

    Isn't that what they've been saying the last 10 years?
    VIDEODROME Thanks this.
  9. VA CDL Holder

    VA CDL Holder Medium Load Member

    Jun 14, 2011
    There isn't a driver shortage, it's more like a pay shortage. Pay people well and they'll never leave. I used to work at the post office and career employees never just quit. They either died or retired, or took a buy out like I did.
  10. VA CDL Holder

    VA CDL Holder Medium Load Member

    Jun 14, 2011
    I've been hired, quit and rehired by Knight at least 6 times in the last 5 years. They will pay you, but you have to remind them sometimes. Sure that's a real PITA, considering when you're not driving you don't to be your own secretary.
  11. fairshake

    fairshake Heavy Load Member

    Oct 4, 2010
    Chickenville, BFE
    They are definitely having issues at my company, no more idling messages a first ever, a ton of "help us" dedicated account messages.

    At the end of the day I'm still not being paid enough to be in the warzone of traffic and just ####ty people in general that come along with trucking. Amen to turn the #### trucks up and stop holding us back for doing our jobs and making it horrible.
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