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‘Worst I’ve ever seen’: Desperate trucking companies offering $100k salary and bonuses to stop shortage

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Supply chain problems under the Biden administration continue to worsen, so trucking companies are offering hefty salaries and bonuses to attract more hires to get behind the wheel before the holidays.

While drivers say the money is great, the wages come at a grueling cost, thanks to a shortage of drivers around the country that consistently-absent Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says can be chalked up to thriving demand from consumers.

Long haul truckers have historically been paid by the mile, but some companies are offering salaries of $100K a year in the hopes of attracting people who otherwise might not pursue the career.

“Certainly $100,000 gets people’s attention because quite frankly people don’t think truck drivers can make that kind of money,” said Tony Bradley, President of the Arizona Trucking Association.

“It’s estimated we’re about 80,000 drivers short nationwide,” Bradley said. “We just can’t fill the ranks fast enough.”

Drivers have been seeing the payoff quite rapidly, says Bradley.

“If you’re a new driver and somebody new coming into the industry, you can get to that level fairly quickly because there’s a crunch of drivers and people need drivers,” Bradley said.

Raymond Guerrero, of Prescott, AZ works for M & J Trucking and recently Facetimed with Arizona’s Family from inside his truck while on a break during a haul from Los Angeles to Colorado. He echoed the sentiment that there’s a trade-off between the large pay and the exhausting hours.

“Right now, I could be on the road for two weeks. Two weeks, come home for 3-4 days,” Guerrero said. “With the shortage of drivers, it’s hard to get the merchandise around the U.S. so it’s tougher on us.”

Guerrero happens to be one of many in the profession who stuck with their jobs during the height of the pandemic, but thousands of others either quit or retired early due to the government-imposed slowdown of commerce all around the U.S.

Bradley said he hopes the incentives will remedy some of the country’s transportation woes, but that the fix won’t occur overnight.

“I would anticipate delays and it’s going to take us several quarters to kind of get out of this current crunch,” Bradley said.

While the figure of $100K is not a starting salary for a novice, new hires who have just completed trucking school can expect to start at between $44,000-$60,000 a year, generally high for a new employee but around the median income expectation in 2020 for heavy truck haulers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bradley says customers should not expect a Christmas miracle and should start ordering products now if they haven’t already.

The CEO of Total Trucking in Mississippi said in an interview that the shortage under the current administration is “the worst I have ever seen.”

Trucks in the U.S. reportedly haul 12 billion tons of freight a year.

“Everything you eat, touch [or] wear comes from a truck, and it takes a driver in this truck to get it to there,” he said.

Frank Webster

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