REPORT: Truck Driver Pay Increases Slowing Down Amid “Raised Expectations”

Kansas City, Missouri – A recent survey conducted by the National Transportation Institute (NTI), found truck driver compensation increases continued in the first quarter of 2019, but not nearly at the same rate as in 2018.

This week, NTI, a respected analyst of truck driver and owner-operator compensation, released its National Survey of Driver Wages report (NSDW) for the first quarter of 2019.

In it, NTI noted a significant change in the pace of “pay moves” by carriers and “historic mileage pay rates.”

The quarterly study of key driver compensation categories for OTR and Regional fleets found that, while the acceleration of pay moves has decreased, the pay changes were “substantial.”


According to NTI, the trends from Q1 of 2019 point to the continued difficulty in attracting and keeping highly qualified drivers.

NTI’s Q1 findings indicated that the industry is reaching “unchartered territory” in the area of mileage pay, with rates of up to 65 cents per mile for solo drivers.

“Our subscribers tell us that, while freight has dropped and driver churn (turnover) has increased, the need to monitor driver pay attributes that produce desired outcomes remains especially high,” NTI Chief Operating Officer, Leah Shaver, commented.

“Some of these outcomes include referrals, safe, productive driving and fair compensation for down time,” she said.

Shaver analyzed that the current driver market is changing “rapidly.”

The reasons for this, she explained, where because we are experiencing near full employment and a record 2018 has “raised driver expectations.”


Guaranteed Pay vs Sign-on Bonuses

The latest study by NTI also examined trends related to guaranteed pay and sign-on bonuses.

NTI found that sign-on bonus continue to be widely deployed by carriers seeking to attract drivers.

However, the Q1 NSDW notes that some recruiters are beginning to take the viewpoint that guaranteed pay and transition bonuses are a better reflection of a driver’s value.

“Our observation is that in Q1 the size of signing bonuses continues to decrease, although the number of carriers offering bonuses continues to remain fairly high,” said NTI CEO and founder Gordon Klemp.

At the same time, carriers that are utilizing some form of guaranteed pay are seeing a positive impact on turnover and hiring,” Klemp noted.




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