‘Even stronger summer than last year’ sends driver pay higher

Driver pay still on the rise

Crete Carrier and Shaffer Trucking has announced a pay increase for drivers in its regional and national over-the-road fleets starting May 1.

New OTR drivers will now see pay rates between 59 and 65 cents per mile depending on their level of experience. The fleets’ pay program uses “practical miles,” which the company on Friday said results in “an average of 3-5% more than pay based on short route miles.” The increase applies to all solo, team and owner-operator drivers on per-mile pay plans in the national and regional OTR fleets.

The carrier said the pay increase will place the top half of its OTR drivers at an average annual pay rate of $89,300.

Crete Carrier President and COO Tim Aschoff, in a notification on the company blog, attributed the pay increase to “an expected economic recovery as the nation begins to emerge from the COVID-driven downturn.” “We are at the cusp of a rising tide here. It’s going to be an even stronger summer than last year.”

The Lincoln, Nebraska-based company is a private, family-owned carrier operating more than 5,500 power units, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The carrier also offers a benefits package and said it made $12 million in profit-sharing contributions to employee retirement accounts in 2020.

Throughout the industry, carriers continue to raise driver pay to keep their equipment seated and on the road. A long stretch of high demand, which is the result of consumers spending more on hard goods to improve their stay-at-home lifestyles, keeps the need for trucking capacity elevated.

Available capacity declined significantly in 2020 due to a slew of early driver retirements, the impacts of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, and diminished driver school enrollments.

The result has been a sustained period of tender rejections from carriers, a proxy for truck capacity, of more than 20%. The index now sits at a record level, 28.3%.

Chart: (SONAR: OTRI.USA). To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

Joliet, Illinois-based logistics provider GP Transco told FreightWaves that its drivers earned 60 cents per mile on average during 2020. The company’s pay rate includes base pay, profit-sharing and accessorial pay for layovers and extra stops. GP Transco also bumps profit-sharing compensation by 1 cent per mile for every six months of “safe driving, on-time performance and overall driver professionalism.” Its profit-sharing plan starts off at 6 cents per mile.

Currently, GP Transco’s W-2 compensated solo OTR drivers make up to $89,000 annually in addition to benefits and 401(k) matching.

Aschoff said Crete Carrier and Shaffer Trucking’s long-term customers understand the recent change in capacity dynamics and are willing to adjust rates to make sure their capacity needs are filled. And that means higher pay to drivers. “We know that we need to lead the industry and pay drivers what they deserve,” Aschoff added.

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