- Driver wage growth is easing, but not in uniform ways, according to The National Transportation Institute driver pay survey data. Notably, private and dedicated fleets have maintained about a 5% growth in median W-2 pay in 2023, according to the institute.
- As for-hire fleets reign in labor costs, they’re still raising payouts for seasoned workers. Drivers with the most experience — also known as cap earners — are seeing base-pay climb 3.3% in Q4 year over year, similar to prior year increases of 3.6%, the institute found.
- “While for-hire carriers are being cautious with pay increases, private fleets and dedicated fleets are trying to grow their driver count, taking lessons from the supply chain disruptions that snared the economy during 2020 and 2021,” the institute told Trucking Dive.
While pay increases are slowing, wages are still rising. Driver pay has grown 1.5% over the last four quarters, compared to gains of over 10% in 2021 and over 5% in 2022, NTI found.
“Throughout the year, despite hiring needs slowing and an industry imbalance of freight demand and trucking capacity, sign-on bonuses and referral bonuses continued to outpace 2022 in both prevalence and amount,” the institute said.
Based on W-2 median earnings for drivers with three years of experience, full-year pay for 2023 is projected to be $72,233 in dedicated fleets, $71,907 in over the road and $65,591 in regional, NTI said in an interview with Trucking Dive.
Base mileage and hourly pay had slower quarterly and annual increases occurring in 2023 compared to the hot labor market in earlier years, NTI added in an email.
“Through the year, dry van and refrigerated drivers have seen the largest gains, with flatbed and tank segments showing fractional gains,” the institute said in an email.
Still, the lowest-paid drivers per mile now are getting paid more than the highest earners in Q4 2022, the institute’s survey found. “Fleets are raising pay for drivers, and at a steady and incremental pace,” the institute said in a news release last month.
“The immense hiring demand among motor carriers and private fleets from the prior three years eased some, and that changing dynamic has prompted many companies to evaluate their experience requirements, become more stringent in their hiring process, and put an emphasis on attracting and retaining drivers that meet those stricter qualifications,” Leah Shaver, president and CEO of NTI, said in a statement.
The organization is assembling data for 2024, asking firms to participate and provide confidential info.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the drivers who had 3.3% wage growth. It was cap earners at for-hire fleets.