Truckers' Pay Surges as Amazons of the World Need More Shipping

(Bloomberg) -- Wages are on the move for America’s truckers as the freight transportation industry contends with driver shortages and increased demand for shipping services.

A recent study by the American Trucking Associations of more than 100,000 employees and contractors showed the median salary of a U.S. truckload driver increased about 15 percent to $53,000 from 2013 to 2017. Pay for a private fleet trucker jumped almost 18 percent to more than $86,000. By comparison, average hourly earnings for all private workers in the U.S. rose about 10 percent during the same period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Truckers' Pay Surges as Amazons of the World Need More Shipping

The industry’s tight labor market is prompting carriers to offer more competitive benefit packages. Ninety percent of truckload fleets give drivers paid leave, while four of every five private carriers offer a 401(k) plan and matching contributions, according to the study.

“Fleets are reacting to concerns about the driver shortage by raising pay and working to make the job more attractive,” said Bob Costello, chief economist at ATA. “I expect that trend to continue as demand for trucking services increases as our economy grows."

Higher trucker pay is hurting some companies that have steep shipping bills.

Amazon.com Inc. is facing higher shipping costs, touching off a scramble to protect margins, and it isn’t alone in the battle against pricier transportation. Hershey Co. has said that higher freight costs are expected to be a 2018 headwind, while chicken company Sanderson Farms Inc. and Hormel Foods Corp. have said shipping expenses are rising and will be a hurdle this year. Tyson Foods Inc., Kellogg Co. and McCormick & Co. have also noted an acceleration.

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