WASHINGTON — According to the National Transportation Institute’s (NTI) National Driver Wage Index, which measures on a quarter-sequential and annual basis the momentum of driver pay changes and tracks wages (mileage and hourly base pay) across segments, fleet type, region and driver job type, the pay scale has seen year-over-year growth for the past 13 years.
“Wage momentum has never turned negative since the Great Recession,” the NTI report notes. “Starting in 2010, every year over the past 13 has seen growth in the wages fleets are paying professional drivers. That’s through the mini freight recession in 2016 and 2017, the economic upswing and capacity crunch in 2018, the correction cycle of 2019 and then the oscillating economic cycles of the COVID and post-COVID era.”
A 2022 survey conducted by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which included 185 fleets, more than 135,000 employee drivers and nearly 20,000 independent contractors, with data broken down by for-hire truckload carriers, less-than-load carriers and private fleets, showed that truckload drivers were paid an estimated median annual amount of $69,687 in 2021, including salaries and bonuses but not benefits.
This figure reflects an 18% increase in annual compensation from ATA’s 2019 study and emphasizes the increase in demand for drivers in this sector.
Independent contractors at Truckload carriers performing non-drayage activities were paid an estimated median annual amount of $235,000 in 2021.
More than 90% of truckload respondents raised driver pay in 2021, offering an average increase of 10.9%. A total of 96% truckload carriers offered a referral bonus to employee drivers with a median value of $1,150 — which is $150 higher than the last ATA survey indicated.
This was in conjunction with a $750 increase in the median sign-on bonus offered by 54% of truckload carriers.
Less-than-truckload drivers who hauled fright over-the-road were paid an estimated median amount of $73,000 in 2021. Less-than-truckload employee drivers on local routes were paid an estimated median amount of $55,000 last year.
Private carriers paid their employee drivers an estimated median amount of $85,000 in 2021, the same value reported in our 2019 study. Seventy-six percent of private carriers offered a referral bonus to employee drivers with a median amount of $1,150 — which is $250 higher than the last survey indicated.
This was in conjunction with a $4,000 spike in the median sign-on bonus offered by 76% of private carriers.
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.