MANKATO, Minn. — Mileage, hourly and annual earnings for professional truck drivers continued to grow in the first quarter of 2023, according to the National Transportation Institute’s (NTI) National Survey of Driver Wages and National Driver Wage Index.
This news comes as fleets continue to pad compensation add-ons like bonuses, productivity incentives and accessorials pay, the NTI report notes.
Despite corrections in the freight market and changing economic conditions, wage growth continued across segments, trailer type, fleet type and driver experience level in 2023’s first quarter — both year-over-year and quarter-to-quarter. While gains were muted from the last few months of 2022, the NTI report shows that wage momentum is still notable year-over-year, particularly for newer drivers.
“By percentage, drivers with a mere one year of experience saw their base per-mile wages grow 5.4% from 2022’s first quarter,” the report notes. “Base pay for drivers with three years of experience grew 5% year over year. Base pay for the highest paid drivers, so-called cap earners, grew 4.3%. Those percentage gains are similar for drivers paid on an hourly basis, too.”
To put those percentages into perspective, average annual wage gains have only topped 5% in five of the 28 years since NTI began tracking driver compensation in 1994.
“The per-mile pay ranges have been removed from this chart, which is based on the National Driver Wage Index and shows pay prevalence for drivers with one year of experience, but you can see the prevalence of fleets’ pay ranges migrate up the scale compared 2022’s first quarter,” according to the report. “The frenzied hiring pressures of 2021 and early 2022 have certainly subsided, but NTI compensation data reveals that recruiting indicators are still showing strength, both compared to 2022’s fourth quarter and year over year.”
The prevalence of fleets offering sign-on bonuses grew a few percentage points from last quarter, and their prevalence was up 10 percentage points year over year. The dollar amount that fleets are offering for sign-ons also grew compared to late 2022 and the same period a year ago.
Referral bonuses likewise saw their prevalence and their dollar amounts climb.
Lastly, the number of fleets offering guaranteed pay continues to grow, too.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.