Driver Dilemma: How Important is Pay?

The second half of 2014 brought the largest number of driver pay raise announcements Gordon Klemp has ever seen.

Klemp has been tracking data on driver pay packages since 1995 as the head of the National Transportation Institute. He says a cycle of pay increases began in the second half of last year, with Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress kicking things off with a 13% pay raise. Major truckload carriers such as Heartland Express, Crete Carrier, Barr Nunn and others followed. Some increases were as high as 20%, Klemp says. The highest were for teams that haul time-sensitive long-haul freight.It’s not just the high numbers that are a first — it’s the pace.  A normal cycle of pay increases runs about 33 months, Klemp says. If things continue at this rate, “we will probably wrap up the cycle in about 13 to 15 months.”  The reason, of course, as we explained in the first in this series last month, is that fleets are having a hard time getting enough drivers to meet high freight demand, thanks to demographic changes, tighter regulations and other factors.

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