Study notes significant increase in pace of carrier pay increases

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Transportation Institute (NTI), which following compensation trends in the trucking industry, says it has noticed a significant change in the pace of pay moves by carriers and historic mileage pay rates within the findings shared in its National Survey of Driver Wages report (NSDW) for the first quarter of 2019.

Featuring a process that includes proprietary research tracking more than 70 unique attributes, the NSDW is distributed exclusively to NTI subscribers.

In its quarterly study of key driver compensation categories for over-the-road and regional fleets, NTI said it found that, while the acceleration of pay moves has decreased, the pay changes that were made do rank as substantial.

According to NTI, the trends from first quarter of 2019 point to the continued difficulty in attracting and keeping highly qualified drivers.

Those findings make note that the industry is reaching unchartered territory in the area of mileage pay, with rates of up to 65 cents per mile for solo drivers.

“Our subscribers tell us that, while freight has dropped and driver churn has increased, the need to monitor driver pay attributes that produce desired outcomes remains especially high,” said NTI COO Leah Shaver. “Some of these outcomes include referrals, safe, productive driving and fair compensation for down time. We’re in a market with near full employment, and driver expectations are raised after a record year in 2018. In these conditions, the driver situation changes rapidly.”

The NSDW also reports on trends related to guaranteed pay and sign-on bonuses.

While the sign-on bonus continues to hold a traditional spot in the driver recruiting toolbox, the first quarter NSDW notes that some recruiters are beginning to take the viewpoint that guaranteed pay and transition bonuses are a better reflection of a driver’s value.

“Our observation is that in first the size of signing bonuses continues to decrease, although the number of carriers offering bonuses continues to remain fairly high. At the same time, carriers that are utilizing some form of guaranteed pay are seeing a positive impact on turnover and hiring,” said NTI CEO and founder Gordon Klemp.

The 2019 Q1 National Survey of Driver Wages report is available through a subscription.

To learn more about the report and how to subscribe, visit

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