Survey data compiled by The National Transportation Institute on driver compensation and benefits programs for the most recent quarter shows that driver wages across segments, applications, trailer type, and fleet type continued their streak of quarter-to-quarter gains that started in the back half of 2020.
Wage growth did slow this spring and summer as broader economic growth cooled. But data on driver wages and incentives offered in the current quarter signal that for-hire and private fleets alike are still pressing to add new drivers and to retain their existing workforce.
Here are three key takeaways for wage trends in the current quarter:
Bonuses signal the competitive hiring environment remains: The prevalence of sign-on bonuses offered by for-hire motor carriers surveyed in the National Survey of Driver Wages grew both quarter over quarter and year over year. The dollar amount offered by fleets for those bonuses also grew, both quarter to quarter and year over year. Referral bonuses (offered to fleets’ existing professional drivers who refer a peer that translates into a new hire) also grew in both prevalence and dollar amount quarter to quarter and year over year. This ongoing growth in sign-on and referral incentives indicates motor carriers are still actively trying to attract and hire new drivers.
Guaranteed pay is becoming a prevalent pay model: Nearly three times as many fleets in the current quarter are offering guaranteed weekly pay to drivers compared to the same quarter five years ago — 2017’s third quarter. While guaranteed pay could be lumped in with sign-on bonuses and referral incentives as a sign of a tight and competitive driver market, the underlying trend toward guaranteed pay opportunities has been consistent over the past five years, with prevalence climbing steadily quarter to quarter through the various market cycles over the past half-decade. This trend signals that guaranteed weekly pay is more than a recruiting tactic. Rather, it’s becoming a fixture of more and more motor carriers’ compensation programs.
Per-mile pay for first-year solo drivers this quarter has surpassed top-end cap pay for drivers with the highest level of experience in the same quarter just four years ago: 2020-2022 have been seminal years for driver wage growth. So much so, that median mileage pay this quarter for solo drivers with just one year of experience, accounting for all trailer types, is now higher than what the most experienced drivers at the top end of the pay scale were making in the same quarter in 2018.
Want to see the dollar amount that your peers and the market at large are offering to drivers for sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses, and guaranteed weekly pay? A subscription to the National Survey of Driver Wages gives you and your team on-demand access to detailed information about those incentives and programs, as well as accurate, verified reports to benchmark your per-mile and hourly pay against your fleet competitors and the market as a whole, and access to data on benefits like retirement and health, layover pay, per diem, and over 100 other driver pay attributes. Click here to learn more about the National Survey of Driver Wages and how to subscribe.