Shipping companies have had to change the way they conduct business in order to deal with a labor shortage, which has been good news for truck drivers who are now receiving better salaries and perks, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Average pay for truck drivers has risen 17% since 2013, reaching a current record high of $57,000, while U.S. wages overall have risen by less than 4% over the same period. Truckers are also receiving $5,000 sign on bonuses, and amenities such as satellite televisions to make life a bit more comfortable while they’re on the road.
The long-haul trucking industry currently employs about 800,000 workers, and it needs about 48,000 more according to the article. As the unemployment rate declines and other options are created, this career path looks less and less desirable. Trucking fleets are left fighting for the same workers, forcing them to hike paychecks and sweeten the deal with some perks.
U.S. Xpress Inc. was one of the first fleets to significantly increase pay when it started having trouble filling its hiring quota, a move that was matched by competitors. COO Eric Fuller says that it will inevitably have to raise pay again. These extra expenses are pushed on to customers — retailers, grocers, and other shippers — who now have to pay higher prices.
Some companies, such as Whirlpool, are reducing their reliance on drivers by opening up distribution centers near railroads.