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The forces at play behind driver wages — Taking the Hire Road

In a constantly evolving market, accurate and up-to-date data is crucial for success in the logistics industry, especially when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees.

The goal of the National Transportation Institute is to foster growth opportunities for fleets by helping them to recruit and expand a team that is appropriately compensated, engaged and retained based on current market trends.

NTI is dedicated to helping fleets understand these compensation trends and make critical operational decisions through updated market data, research and analysis. According to Leah Shaver, president and CEO of NTI, NTI’s research is the gold standard for driver compensation data and is a key to recruiting and retaining more drivers.

The market is facing many economic headwinds, including inflation and bear markets. Despite the shifts in other parts of the industry, Shaver said that trucks are still being filled.

“Ultimately what fills a trailer is still being shipped, and carriers that haul loaded trailers are very busy,” she said.

These trends have impacted the industry overall, but according to Shaver, the only noticeable impact on recruiting and retention, for now, has been conversation around where things are headed.

“As far as recruiting and retention is concerned, the biggest change has been in conversations about the economic impacts that this environment could potentially look like in the weeks and months ahead,” she said. “With many fleets already having a lot of qualified drivers in their seats, a lot of the focus has been on retention efforts alongside recruiting efforts.”

NTI provides a regular, up-to-date driver market forecast, as needed, for its partners. These forecasts include impacts on compensation, such as economic factors affecting supply and gross domestic product, as well as other aspects of the economy that are not limited to the trucking industry. 

“We track things like where wages surge as well as where the wage data is the most sought after. What that translates to is where folks are seeing the most demand for capacity,” Shaver said. “We also look at other factors and we expand into each of these categories with great detail and ultimately put it all together in a package that our partners can digest and do something with in terms of internal operations.” 

Shaver added that while labor data is back to pre-pandemic figures, that is still only in less-than-truckload and local operations, not in long-haul trucking.

“There is a dramatic shift, both on the shipper and the carrier side, but it’s primarily on the local segment. Seventy percent of growth has been in local jobs, and less than 10% in long-haul trucking,” she added. “These trends could cause a huge impact on the companies that we support. Our goal is to continue to make these jobs more attractive, whether it be in making changes to it or in how we can modify operations to get it there.”

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Britni Chisenall

Britni Chisenall is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves. She lives in Ooltewah, TN with her husband, Garrett and her cat, Lily. Britni is a graduate of Dalton State College.