Driver Wages Rose 15% Last Year Amid Trucking Labor Shortage

Starting and retention bonuses increased as well, rising by over 20% in 2022, even after adjusting for inflation.

Truck drivers earned 15.5% more in 2022 than the year prior, in what composes the largest year-over-year wage increase since the industry first started tracking the data in 2008.

The trucking industry‘s labor shortage problem is only set to increase across the next few years, and wages are rising in response.

The data comes from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), and marks a contrast to other industries, such as tech, which are seeing softening labor markets.

Driver Wages Up 15.5%, Hitting $0.724 Per Mile

In addition to overall compensation rising sharply, the ATRI report found that starting bonuses and retention bonuses increased as well.

They actually jumped faster, with the average bonus rising by over 20% year over year in 2022, even after adjusting for inflation.

From the ATRI report summary:

“Total marginal costs climbed to a new high in 2022 for the second year in a row, increasing by 21.3 percent over 2021 to $2.251 per mile. Though fuel was the largest driver of this spike (53.7% higher than in 2021), multiple other line-items also rose by double digits. Driver wages increased by 15.5 percent, to $0.724 per mile, reflecting the ongoing industry effort to attract and retain drivers. Driver benefits, however, remained stable in 2022.”

Driver Turnover Rates Have Improved in 2022

The good news is that the increased prices seem to be doing the trick.

The numbers of specific concerns including driver turnover, detention times, and equipment utilization all improved within “nearly every fleet size and sector” across the last year.

“In a softening market with costs rising at an unparalleled pace, carrier benchmarking becomes more critical than ever. ATRI’s newest Operational Costs report provides the reliable data and analysis we need to better understand our partners’ underlying costs in a volatile economy and decelerating rate marketplace.” -Dave Broering, President of NFI Integrated Logistics

Still, costs are high, and the report found that smaller fleets are hit the hardest, with margins shrinking faster than large fleets in 2022.

Other Fleet Problems: Fuel and Supply Chains

High fuel costs remain one of the biggest financial concerns for trucking fleets in the US, and those costs jumped an eye-watering 53.7% higher in 2022 over just a year earlier.

Supply chain disruptions are another concern for today's truckers, since they're needed for any equipment that must be acquired and maintained. Parts shortages and rising technician labor rates are related to these rising equipment costs, and these factors all combine to boost repair and maintenance costs upwards by 12% to reach $0.196 per mile.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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