Survey: Drivers say they need more money

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Updated Dec 8, 2020

When the American Transportation Research Institute released its report on the Critical Issues In The Trucking Industry for 2020, driver compensation ranked second out of the top 10 issues overall.

While drivers ranked pay that high, behind only truck parking availability, respondents from the companies they drive for did not even place trucker compensation in their top 10 list.

A recent survey of readers of Truckers News and its sister publication Overdrive illuminates the issue of what truck drivers are paid and their perceptions about how it affects driver retention and recruiting.

When asked, “What was your net income last year?”

  • 43% of respondents said between $50,001 and $75,000
  • 24% said $75,001 to $100,000
  • 17% said $35,001 to $50,000
  • 10% said more than $100,000
  • 5% said $35,000 or less

That compares to an annual median income of an American worker of $48,672, according to data compiled by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Drivers in the Truckers News/Overdrive survey were also asked to estimate their current income based on their miles or loads so far this year. The survey found:

  • 42% expected to make the same amount of money they did in 2019
  • 33% expected to make less than they did in 2019
  • 25% expected to make more

The survey also found that personal finances worry truckers. When we asked, “What are your top three concerns right how?” 28% said their number one concern is paying their bills each month. Another 13% ranked paying their bills as their second concern and 11% more ranked it third.

And, it’s not just personal financial issues that are on the minds of truckers. They also think carriers are having trouble recruiting and retaining drivers because of pay.

Fully 68% said “They don’t pay enough” when asked, “Why do you think fleets are having a hard time finding drivers today?” The results were almost exactly the same when the question was, “Why do you think fleets are having a hard time retaining drivers today?” Sixty-five percent said, “They don’t pay enough.”

So, not surprisingly, more money was the answer when we asked, “If you were in charge of a fleet and could do one thing to attracted and retain drivers, you would …” Twenty-seven percent said, “Offer more miles/money.” Eighteen percent of respondents said, “Guarantee a minimum pay, or mileage/loads.”

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And, boiling this down to a personal level, we asked, “What would be the main reason you would consider changing jobs and driving for another fleet? Fully 33% said they would change jobs if offered more money.

(It’s worth noting that this survey was done about mid-way through the year after the first wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus struck and before the freight surge that has occurred, prompting many fleets to increase driver pay.)

Here’s who responded to our survey:

  • 82% are company drivers
  • 52 % drive over-the-road and 38% drive regionally
  • 28% drive 75,001 to 100,000 miles and 24% drive 100,001 to 125,000 miles per year
  • 61% have driven for more than 20 years

Look for an upcoming story on truckers’ plans for retirement … or to just keep driving.

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