July 11, 2012
Carriers anticipate driver wages to increase in the next 12 months, but only incrementally, according to results from Transport Capital Partners' Second Quarter 2012 Business Expectations Survey. Given the current shortage of qualified drivers and the inability to increase wages during the recession, 93% of the carriers are expecting wages will increase, but 71% expect the increases will be less than 5%. Such small increases in driver compensation will probably only exacerbate driver turnover and not help in attracting new entrants who will stay in the industry long term, TCP says. "Carriers are concerned about unseated trucks and the lack of applicants for a variety of reasons," notes Lana Batts, TCP partner. "Extended long-term unemployment encourages looking for a new job only as these benefits run out. Additionally, the increase in construction is resulting in former and current drivers moving back to that industry." Although driver wages seem to be holding steady, fuel prices have decreased slightly during the past month. Carriers continue, however, to try to improve fuel economy because even the best fuel non-dedicated truckload surcharges do not cover all the fuel price increases. The most popular strategies include reducing individual speed limits, purchasing improved aerodynamics, and training drivers to improve fuel mileage. "Diesel pricing is still high and fuel surcharges are viewed as inadequate by the industry," saysTCP Partner Richard Mikes. "However, diesel may not be the fuel of the future as truck makers and carriers see the recently found century-plus reserves of natural gas as an opportunity."