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Fleets Raising Driver Pay

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Recruiting Challenges Spur Sharp Increases

By Rip Watson, Senior Reporter

This story appears in the July 26 print edition of Transport Topics.

The number of fleets that raised driver pay in the second quarter increased sharply, and continuing difficulties in attracting new drivers could spark another round of increases in the third quarter, several industry experts have said.

About 20% of truckload fleets increased pay in the second quarter, compared with 1.7% in the first three months of 2010, said Gordon Klemp, principal of the National Transportation Institute, Kansas City, Mo.

More than a third of flatbed carriers raised pay in the second quarter, followed by 20% of refrigerated fleets and 11% of dry van operators, Klemp said. That trend was a sharp turnaround from June 2009, when at least one-third of fleets cut pay to stay afloat during the recession.

"Before the end of the third quarter, at least one major carrier will make a bold move to attract drivers with pay and kick off a significant round of pay increases," Klemp predicted, without identifying the fleet or fleets.

More increases are expected because the number of fleet requests for special pay studies rose 50% in the first half of this year, Klemp said. Based on past experience, at least 70% of the carriers that ask for those studies decide to raise wages.

Klemp, who publishes his report based on a survey of nearly 400 fleets, said pay rose an average of 4.5 cents a mile in the flatbed sector, more than twice the increase at dry van and refrigerated fleets.