“Our drivers have worked extremely hard during these unprecedented times of high demand and tight capacity, and we are proud to recognize them with this industry-leading pay package,” said President of Maverick Transportation, John Culp.
These kinds of updates come as trucking companies throughout the industry see the continuing driver shortage carrying on, and as more truck drivers desire boosted wages in order to stay in their positions–(and not worsen the shortage as it stands).
Maverick, specifically, recently announced it would increase pay for its marine, glass, flatbed, and dedicated drivers, with Averitt Express announcing later its promise to boost wages for dock associates, diesel mechanics, local drivers, and shuttle drivers as well.
Earlier in April, WEL Cos. also announced it would be increasing wages by 4 cents a mile for its truckers.
“Our local driving and support associates are the champions of the communities we serve,” said Averitt’s vice president of operations, Barry Blakely, in regards to the company’s boosted wages. “For 50 years, Averitt has been committed to serving our customers and our team, and this increase will ensure that we can continue to provide exceptional service in all areas.”
Beginning May 16th, student drivers at Maverick began to see payments rise to around 60 cents per mile–an average income of about $80,000 per year. Flatbed and glass over-the-road truck drivers at the company are now receiving an increase of 3 to 4 cents a mile, with experienced truckers earning up to 66 cents per mile.
These are not the first times in 2021 trucking companies have made efforts to boost employee wages–Maverick first announced a pay raise for glass, flatbed, and dedicated drivers in early January, with the other two companies following suit–Averitt announced a pay bump for all of its regional flatbed and truckload drivers back in March, and WEL had also increased rates by 3 cents per mile earlier in the year.
Still, though, it has been made clear to many industry professionals that a truck driver shortage of this caliber can not simply be remedied with just pay boosts, explained Bob Costello, Chief Economist for the American Trucking Associations.
“There is so much going on here,” he said. “You can write a whole PhD thesis on this if you really wanted to.”
Costello noted that he believes these current circumstances and motivations to boost wages are just a regular market reaction.
“Things that come to mind include the natural market reaction to any situation where demand outstrips supply as price goes up,” he explained. “And so, I am absolutely not surprised at all that pay is going up for drivers. It should go up, [and] it will continue to go up. But it’s also sign-on bonuses and guaranteed minimum weekly pay. It’s all this sort of stuff. But as I say over and over and over, if this was only about pay, this would be easy to fix.”
According to Costello, the trucking industry lost around 32,000 overall jobs in 2020, with most of those positions being those of truck drivers. Only a small number of jobs have been added since then, including in sectors where roles were cut–production jobs, nonsupervisory roles, for-hire trucking jobs and non-local trucking jobs. As of now, the official number of truck drivers let go or who left the industry in 2020 is not yet available.
“Back at the end of last year, we were actually at the height of all this in terms of drivers coming back,” noted FTR Transportation Intelligence vice president of trucking research, Avery Vise. “[During] the fourth quarter of last year, trucking added almost 29,000 payroll jobs. And that’s actually the most that have been added in any three-month period in 25 years. That was actually the middle of what seemed to be a speedy recovery.”
Trucking companies now need to prioritize retention, Costello explained, as companies throughout the country are working with the same pool of candidates and a limited number of new truckers entering the industry. Additionally, for driver recruitment to see any significant increases, potential employees and contractors need to know that their quality of life on the job will be high, in addition to attractive benefits and pay.
“I think it was a hole that we got dug into,” said Costello in regards to 2020’s obstacles. “Now that the vaccine is more prevalent and getting around, I think we can make some headway in this area. But what I’m saying is you’re not going to dig out of this hole–that training gap hole–any time soon.”