Another trucking company has announced a pay increase for its drivers, wrapping up a month in which company after company handed down raises.
The latest company with an increase is Alabama Motor Express. AMX is relatively small — it has about 250 power units — compared with some of the companies that increased pay rates during the month. However, its announcement of the pay increase, as well as one of the company’s leading executives’ willingness to discuss it, provided some detail on a company that is going through a period in which pay increases are coming at a rapid pace and carriers need to be nimble to stay competitive.
Pay rates started going up last fall and have not stopped.
The specifics on the AMX move are that the base rate for the company is 43 cents per mile. But bonuses are added on top of that. OTR drivers with 10,000-plus miles per month get an additional 2 cents per mile. Getting above 11,000 means a driver gets an additional 7 cents per mile.
Regional drivers with more than 9,000 miles per month get an additional 2 cents per mile. Topping 10,000 miles per month brings an additional 4 cents per mile. Team drivers pick up an extra 4 cents per mile if they cross 16,000 miles.
“If you’re a good driver, you’re getting calls off the hook from every trucking company in the country offering you a job for crazy pay rates,” Collins White, the president of AMX Logistics, told FreightWaves. “So we are dealing with that. We try to block all of that out and focus on ourselves, but we’ve got to keep up.”
As for AMX, White said he believes the base rate is competitive with other carriers. But he said AMX also believes the miles driven by the company are clocking in at about 2,500 per week on average, which he said is higher than that of many other companies. “So at the end of the day, maybe the drivers are getting more than others who are paying 53 to 54 cents per mile, because their miles are higher,” White said.
“We like to raise our pay any chance we get,” White said. “When we see good rate increases from our customers, we like to pay it back to the most important part of our company, which is our drivers.”
Compensation comparisons can be difficult in this market, though, and companies are trying to find ways to stand out. (For example, White said he believes the medical plan at AMX is superior to that at other companies and is worth about 3 cents per mile.) With the increases put into place in the past month, the per-mile rate appears to be running toward 50 cents on the low side and as much as 60 cents or more on the high side for a nonspecialized driver. But that’s the base rate; companies may choose to pay differentials on top of that.
So among the changes touted in March alone by companies trying to separate themselves from the pack:
— West Coast-based Cheema Freightlines said its average pay for company drivers following a recent increase is $70,000 to $72,000 per year, with top drivers expected to reach $100,000 this year under its recent changes.
—Pennsylvania-based Crete Carrier said its recent increase would put its top drivers at an average of $89,300 after an increase that puts pay rates between 59 and 65 cents per mile.
— Cargo Transporters of North Carolina is touting an “all-in” structure that starts at 55 cents per mile.
That list is just a smattering of the firms that are increasing pay — and announcing it. Some of those announcements are coming from companies whose websites, under the “News” menu, have only a handful of items. But they do publicize their salary increases.
White ran through the usual litany of why driver pay is rising on the back of a tight availability of people willing to get behind the wheel: the impact of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, the impact of stimulus money and extended unemployment benefits, and what he said was a key factor: the need for some drivers to stay home and provide child care to students shut out of closed schools who are learning from home.