“With freight demand climbing and rates on the move, trucker pay should rise in the coming months”, says Gordon Klemp, a driver pay analyst and president of the National Transportation Institute. Klemp shared his prediction in a conference call with investors in early November. Stifel, an investment firm, hosted the call and distributed a recap of Klemp’s remarks.
If carriers secure rate increases in contracts with shippers, they pass some gains on to drivers, Klemp told investors.
He didn’t forecast any percentage-based increases in driver pay. Instead, he noted that driver pay increases with freight rates. Not all of the gains in per-mile rates will translate to drivers’ paychecks, but “driver pay is moving up alongside the freight increases,” notes the conference call recap distributed by Stifel.
Though carriers consistently increased driver pay in recent years, driver wages climbed only 6.3 percent on average over the last decade. “For-hire drivers lost effective purchasing power over the past 10 years and adjusted lifestyles accordingly,” says Stifel’s report. Looking even farther back, driver wages are in effect just half of what they were in 1979, before deregulation, said Klemp.
Klemp also noted that carriers face an uphill battle in recruiting younger drivers to the industry.
These drivers “disinclined to enter” trucking, “as they are often concerned with work-life balance”. Nearly 60 percent of the current driver workforce is older than 45. That’s a good bit higher than 1994, Klemp noted, when just 45 percent of drivers were 45 years or older. “However, with freight demand strengthening and the driver shortage becoming acute, the stage is set for drivers to realize driver pay increases over the foreseeable future,” says Stifel’s report.
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