Trucking Industry Shows Growth
Trucking companies are gearing up for growth as the economy strengthens. The American Trucking Association (ATA) released a comprehensive look at the next 10 years in trucking, titled the US Freight Transportation Forecast to 2027. Based on its predictions, trucking companies and drivers can expect to see climbing numbers in freight volume, the amount of transported goods and truck driver jobs.
The Forecast is often used a guide for companies and owner operators to develop long-term strategies for the future. Part of the ATA projection included a 24 percent rise in overall revenue for the trucking industry. ATA’s Chief Economist explains Bob Costello, “As we continue to see growth in the overall economy, particularly due to manufacturing, consumer spending and international trade, we will also see increases in the amount of freight moved in America’s trucks.”
While passenger train options are growing, the ATA reports that rail transportation of goods is expected to drop by 14.6 percent through 2020. US energy production is growing and becoming more efficient, seen by the increase in regional pipelines. These pipelines greatly reduce needs for rail and water transportation in the US, leaving both industries to look toward tourism options for growth.
Although demands for hauls are expected to increase, trucking companies are more concerned with filling seats with drivers. Drivers are retiring in mass numbers, leaving a shortage of qualified new hires. Finding experienced or well-trained drivers is more and more difficult each season. The ATA suggests that long periods away from home keep much potential new hires from entering the industry.
“We do know as long as our economy continues to grow, truck will continue to move the vast majority of America’s goods, underscoring our industry’s critical role in our country’s future,” ATA President Chris Spear reports.
It’s clear that the trucking industry is growing. American Trucking Trends 2016 reports, “According to our data, trucking revenues topped $700 billion for a second straight year, setting an all-time record of $726.4 billion in 2015, while trucks moved more than 10 billion tons of freight,” said Costello. “While the first half of 2016 has been challenging for the industry, trucking is coming off two very strong years and we are optimistic about the future.”
Among the findings in this year’s edition of Trends:
- Trucking collected $726.4 billion in gross freight revenues, 81.5% of the nation’s freight bill in 2015.
- Trucks carried 10.49 tons of freight in 2015, accounting for 70.1% of domestic freight tonnage.
- In 2015, there were 3.63 million Class 8 trucks in operation.
These numbers come at a time when driver pay and benefits are at an all time high. Annual employee driver compensation varies among carrier and trailer types, but the median pay for independent contracts with irregular routes was just over $46,000 as compared to private fleet van drivers who earned more than $73,000. This includes mileage-base pay packages, but nearly 80 percent of truck drivers report new benefits packages including paid holidays off, 401(k) plans with matching contributions, and performance bonus pay options.
While trucking companies continue to grow their client base and revenues, drivers will benefit from a competitive hiring environment. The most experienced veteran drivers will be able to use this environment to position their careers with top dollar salaries and new drivers entering the industry will benefit from new sign on bonuses and paid training options.