For the first time in 15 quarters, over 30% of truckload carriers participating in The National Survey of Driver Wages reported pay changes. This is about 50% higher than the usual number of carriers making pay changes, researchers noted.

The quarterly survey, done by SignPost Inc., looks at over 400 compensation packages for company drivers and owner-operators. At the start of the quarter, only 7 of the 37 carriers making changes offered starting pay of 32 cents a mile or more to drivers with three years of experience. After pay increases, over 40% meet or exceed the 32 cent/mile level. M.S. Carriers led the pack with a 4 cent/mile increase.
The average increase was 3.5%. The average increase for flatbed carriers was 3.8%, for dry van carriers it was 3.4%, and for refrigerated carriers it was 3.3%. SignPost estimates the annual rate of change at 4.2%.
"Truckload carriers are caught in a nightmare scenario of skyrocketing fuel costs, higher interest rates, falling used equipment prices, increased insurance costs and boosting driver wages," said Dave Goodson, one of the survey founders. "Of these the biggest threat to a carrier's health is the increase in driver wage costs. A carrier can keep his fuel tanks full by paying the higher costs, but increasing driver wages is no guarantee of filling empty trucks. Many of these carriers will have the same percentage of the fleet sitting idle after making their pay changes. Yet if they don't make a change, they probably will have a greater number of trucks wihtout drivers."
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