American truck drivers earned bigger paychecks in 2021, driven by supply chain challenges and increased demand for transportation and logistics services, according to data from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), released today.
The average truckload driver earned more than $69,000 in 2021, an 18% increase compared to ATA's previous study, which was done in 2019. The survey polled more than 135,000 employee drivers at fleets nationwide and nearly 20,000 independent contractors. The survey also found that: more than 90% of truckload fleets raised pay in 2021, with the average increase reaching nearly 11% year-over-year; 96% of fleets offered referral bonuses for new drivers; and 54% of fleets offered sign-on bonuses. Every less-than-truckload (LTL) fleet surveyed said they raised pay in 2021, with the median wage reaching $73,000, according to the survey.
A nationwide shortage of truck drivers and accelerated demand for logistics services since the pandemic has helped drive the wage increase, ATA said.
“The driver shortage, coupled with increased demand for goods in the post-pandemic economy, really drove driver salaries,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a press release announcing the 2021 survey results. “These pay increases should put to lie the myths about the nature of this job—trucking is a path that can provide a well-paid career for Americans looking for one.”
Drivers for private fleets earned a median salary of $85,000 in 2021, according to the survey, while owner-operators earned even higher paychecks: 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.