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Driver Pay Climbing and Staying, NTI Reports

by Charlotte Freed | Jun 15, 2018

6.15.18The National Transportation Institute has released data showing that per-mile driver pay surged in this year’s first quarter compared to the first quarter of last year. Mostly midsize to larger carriers pushed driver pay up by 7 to 11 cents per mile. Called “aggressive moves” by NTI President Gordon Klemp, who has tracked driver pay fluctuations for the past 25 years, he says the “staggering amount” of increases are historically strong gains.

Klemp notes that 6.25 percent of fleets tracked gave pay boosts in the 7 to 11 cent range, 43.75 percent implemented 4 to 6 cent increases, and the remaining 50 percent upped pay by 1 to 3 cents per mile. As the driver shortage continues to worsen, industry-wide efforts are being put in to recruiting and retaining drivers. Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research believes that rather than a driver shortage, the industry faces a “retention shortage”. Noel Perry, chief economist at says “The easiest way to get drivers is to pay them more.”

Sign-on bonus rates for van drivers also saw large gains in the first quarter, averaging $7,000 over last year’s $1,500 in the first quarter. Reefer driver bonuses grew to an average of $3,000 and flatbed to $6,000. The American Trucking Associations chief economist, Bob Costello, said in March that “Not only are fleets paying drivers more on pay-rate basis, but drivers are working more because there’s more freight – so they’re actually getting a double benefit.” Klemp sees the increase cycle ending soon. Now over 80 percent of fleets the NTI studied have increased pay and the remaining 20 percent are expected to adjust soon with the next round of pay moves coming this autumn.  

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