Trucking Wages Jumped in 2021 as Labor Shortages, Supply Chain Issues Increased Demand

According to American Trucking Associations2022 driver compensation study, wages for American truckers rose significantly in 2021 as demand for drivers amid the ongoing driver shortage increased competition for talent.

“The data supports what industry sources have been saying for some time: The driver shortage has been great for drivers who saw their salaries rise last year,” Bob Costello, chief economist for ATA, said. “Pay increases were broad based across the industry. For example, between salary increases and bonuses, the average truckload driver saw a wage increase of 10.9% last year.”

As part of the study, nearly 20,000 independent contractors and fleets with more than 135,000 employee drivers were queried about their compensation, including pay rates, bonuses and benefits.

Among the findings in this year’s survey:

  • The median truckload driver earned more than $69,000 in 2021, marking an 18% increase from the previous survey.
  • More than 90% of truckload fleets raised pay in 2021, with the average increase hitting 10.9%. In addition, 96% of fleets offered referral bonuses for new drivers and 54% offered sign-on bonuses.
  • Every less-than-truckload fleet surveyed raised pay in 2021, with the median wage hitting $73,000.
  • The median salary for a driver at a private fleet was $85,000.
  • Non-drayage owner-operators that responded to the survey earned estimated median gross revenues of $235,000 in 2021, while owner-operators in the drayage sector earned median gross revenues of $164,000.

“The driver shortage, coupled with increased demand for goods in the post-pandemic economy, really drove driver salaries,” Costello said. “These pay increases should put to lie the myths about the nature of this job; trucking is a path that can provide a well-paid career for Americans looking for one.”

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