Truck Drivers Are Getting America’s Biggest Pay Raises

Courtesy: CNN

(CNN) — Truckers are hitting the pedal on their paychecks.

Truck drivers’ wages grew 7.8% in October, compared to a year ago — the biggest jump among 60 common professions analyzed by Glassdoor.com, a job-search website. It’s also far better than the overall wage growth for all jobs of 2.8%.

“We have a booming economy, we’re seven years into the expansion and truck drivers are the front line,” says Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.

Pay for truckers varies by distance and employer. Glassdoor estimates median pay for truckers drivers — mostly long haul drivers — is $54,000. The American Trucking Association says that truckers who work for a private fleet can earn up to $73,000 a year.

The pay is well ahead of other blue collar positions like machine operators ($36,800), construction workers ($36,600) and maintenance workers ($41,179), according to Glassdoor.

Truck drivers have defied the overall trends in the U.S. economy, where wages have grown at a snail’s pace since the end of the Great Recession.

There’s been a major shortage of truck drivers, who typically require a commercial drivers license. The ATA estimates there’s a growing shortage of nearly 50,000 drivers in America. In 2013, the shortage was only 30,000 drivers.

Another reason truckers’ wages are going up: it’s not a job that a machine can replace yet. And there’s a ton of goods that need to be transported, given that the economy has been growing for seven years now, argues Chamberlain.

At a time when work-life balance issues such as paid leave and flexible schedules are gaining spotlight in the American economy, trucking companies are challenged to recruit and retain workers. Industry leaders say they are challenged to bring in young drivers because of the grueling work demands.

The median age for truck drivers is 49 years old, according to the ATA. The median age for all American workers is about 42 years old, according to the Labor Department.

With overall unemployment low at 5%, truck companies are hard pressed to find new and qualified drivers.

“That’s going to force companies to hike up wages to get the employees they need,” says Chamberlain.