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Truck driver salary increased significantly in 2021, according to study

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A new study released by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) showed a dramatic increase in truck driver pay in 2021.

On August 10, the ATA released 2022 ATA Driver Compensation Study, which looked at driver compensation for 2021.

“The data supports what industry sources have been saying for some time – the driver shortage has been great for drivers who saw their salaries rise last year,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Pay increases were broad based across the industry, for example between salary increases and bonuses, the average truckload driver saw a wage increase of 10.9% last year.”

Other key takeaways from the survey are below:

  • The median truckload driver earned more than $69,000 in 2021 – an 18% increase from the previous survey.
  • More than 90% of truckload fleets raised pay in 2021, with the average increase hitting 10.9%. Ninety-six percent of fleets offered referral bonuses for new drivers, and 54% offered sign-on bonuses. 
  • Every less-than-truckload fleet surveyed raised pay in 2021, with the median wage hitting 73,000.
  • The median salary for a driver at a private fleet was $85,000.
  • Non-drayage owner-operators that responded to the survey saw estimated median gross revenues of $235,000 in 2021, while owner-operators in the drayage sector saw median gross revenues of $164,000.

While the ATA points to a “driver shortage” as a reason for the increase in driver wages, other groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have argued for many years that there is no driver shortage, but rather a lack of fair driver compensation and inefficiencies like excessive detention times that make it appear that there aren’t enough drivers.

Researchers surveyed fleets with more than 135,000 employee drivers along with nearly 20,000 independent contractors to compile their results.

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