For the majority of Americans, salaries have not risen much over recent years. There is one sector that bucks this trend though: the trucking industry. For the past few years, long haul truck drivers have enjoyed a seventeen percent increase in their average yearly salary. In contrast, salaries for other sectors have risen by no more than a few percent.
In particular, during the previous twelve months, lots of truckers have witnessed their largest salary increases in recent memory. Everywhere you look, there seems to be adverts trying to bribe truckers to change the company they work for — be it through complimentary bus tickets, or through four figure enrollment bonuses. Also, employers are making their fleets more luxurious, with features like satellite TV, so that the time spent away from home is as bearable as possible for workers.
Another interesting fact is that imports have grown, due to a strong US dollar, and there are too few drivers to fulfill this increased demand. At the moment, there are roughly 800,000 truckers working in America. However, an extra 48,000 truckers are needed to transport all the additional cargo now making its’ way to US shores.
Most of this imported cargo travels through ports in California. In 2014 and 2013, the Inland Empire Economic Partnership of Southern California, and the Californian Trucking Association, reported that an owner operator in California would earn more money, on average, than a company driver. Indeed, in 2014, the average owner operator salary was $59,478, whereas the average company driver salary was just $42,078.
Of course, one of the main benefits of being a company driver is that workers can leave the job behind them, once they take the keys out of the ignition. Also, the salary they get is entirely theirs — as they do not have to spend any extra money on repair fees, truck payments, insurance or oil changes etc. Moreover, although Californian owner operators are said to be surpassing the salaries of company drivers, in some other parts of America this is not the case.
Mostly though, truckers who work as independents do earn higher salaries than company drivers — and often much more. Owner operators account for almost twenty percent of American trucks in operation today. And close to three quarters of these drivers make more money than company drivers. Some of the biggest and most successful carriers began independently as single truck owner operators too.