CRST International said today it would award $10 million in pay increases over the next 12 months to the 3,500 drivers of CRST Expedited Inc., its largest operating unit. The increase is the largest in the Cedar Rapids, Ia.-based truckload carrier's 58-year history, the company said.
Pay increases will take effect on Oct. 15, CRST said. The extent of increases will vary depending on a driver's tenure, performance, and the length and types of routes driven, Cameron Holzer, president of CRST, said in a statement.
Newly hired drivers will also be eligible for pay hikes, the company said.
"Our investment in our drivers is intended to help attract new drivers to the industry, as well as retain our existing drivers for the long term," Holzer said in the statement. "Our drivers are the heart of our organization and need to be compensated for the hard work and dedication they provide."
CRST's action comes as truckers strive to attract drivers and, perhaps most importantly, retain qualified drivers during a time when good labor is in high demand and drivers face increasing cost pressures from the recently implemented federal Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules which have reduced a driver's workweek hours. Drivers for truckload carriers make, on average, close to $50,000, levels considered low given the importance of the work and the length of time long-haul drivers are away from home.
In the first quarter of 2013, quarterly turnover at large truckload fleets—fleets with at least $30 million in annual revenue—rose to an annualized rate of 97 percent from 90 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data from the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The rate was the highest since the third quarter of 2012, when it was 104 percent. It was just below the average rate in 2012 of 98 percent, ATA said.
At smaller truckload fleets, the turnover rate rose to 82 percent in the first quarter from 76 percent in the previous quarter. The rate matches the 2012 annual average, but is below the most recent high of 94 percent in the third quarter of last year, ATA said. The first-quarter data is the latest available on driver turnover.