US Demand For Trucking Fuels Pay Increases For Drivers

Swift truck

As the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, a surge in truck traffic has shippers boosting drivers’ pay.

In a press release, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings announced it is increasing both driver pay and contractor rates. For example, Knight-Swift said that its “over-the-road company drivers” have seen their per-mile pay boosted. That’s part of the “pay increases and incentives” the company has offered over the past six months.

CEO David Jackson said that “driver pay increases and (contractor) rate increases, along with enhancements to bonuses and incentives” have added up to tens of millions of dollars.

Knight-Swift also touts its training programs as the demand for trucking increases. The company said it is the largest truckload carrier in North America.

Another large U.S. trucking company, Yellow Corp., is offering training through 14 driving schools — along with so-called pop-up schools at some freight terminals.

“We need more drivers and we need them now,” Yellow Corp. CEO Darren Hawkins told The Wall Street Journal. “Demand is strong, capacity is tight, and we’re going to be in hiring mode” at least through the end of 2021.

One of the largest U.S. trucking companies, Yellow said it has hired nearly 2,000 drivers and dock workers in the first quarter of 2021 and will offer about 24 recruiting events between now and July.

The Knight-Swift release said the company’s driving-school graduates can earn more than $60,000 annually in their first year after training.

The news release said that the company’s “experienced drivers can now start above $.50 per mile” or more in certain parts of the country.

Shipping delays are part of the fallout from the surge in demand. Not to mention that, when the pandemic started last year, consumers found themselves waiting for weeks for items that previously may have arrived in a day or two. Even now, the deadly pandemic continues to disrupt global supply lines.