Trucker Pay Has Fallen When Adjusted For Inflation

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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In a recent article in the New York Times they talked about driver demand and wages. For those of you who have been around a little while you've heard me mention that driver wages, when adjusted for inflation, have dropped considerably in the past two decades.

In 1993 when I got started in trucking people were making just about $40,000 their first year. If you adjust that for inflation you would need to make $64,000 today to have the same spending power that $40,000 had in 1993. That's nearly a 50% drop in spending power.

Well here's a graph that came from the Bureau Of Labor Statistics that demonstates this over the past 10 years:

falling trucker pay graph

Here's a quote from the article:

The numbers are revealing: Even as trucking companies and their trade association bemoan the driver shortage, truckers — or as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers — were paid 6 percent less, on average, in 2013 than a decade earlier, adjusted for inflation. It takes a peculiar form of logic to cut pay steadily and then be shocked that fewer people want to do the job.

Of course keep in mind that the government reports inflation as being far lower than it actually is. They do the same with unemployment statistics. They've changed their reporting criteria over the years to make the numbers look better. So these numbers are far worse than a 6% drop.

But here's what really terrifies me. This is the brick wall we're heading toward at 1000 mph and someone better figure out a solution before we slam into it:

By now, wage income is as low a percentage of gross domestic product as it has been since 1947, while corporate profits are at postwar highs. These are two sides of the same coin. Money that once accrued to workers now goes to shareholders.

So our corporations are turning higher profits than they have at anytime in the past 70 years while worker's wages as a percentage of goods produced are at their lowest levels in 70 years. All of the money is accumulating in the hands of the super wealthy and large corporations while the middle class decays at an alarming rate.

So the next time you wonder why the demand for drivers is so high you'll know that part of the reason is because wages are dropping relative to inflation and have been for decades. And if you're wondering why nobody is paying a blue collar wage that you can actually live on it's because corporations are able to keep larger percentages of the profits for themselves. A lot of that is likely due to technological advances that have brought automation and more efficient technologies to the workplace.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Fatsquatch 's Comment
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I don't want to get completely on my soap box here, but you left out one big word that explains why wages across all industries are stagnating while corporate profits, corporate liquid assets (cash), and corporate executive salaries are all at record highs: greed.

Daniel B.'s Comment
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Aren't these type of threads reserved for Anchornan??


Justin N.'s Comment
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Was the trucking industry in 93 the same as it is now in terms of rookies and company sponsored training? Some of the trainees I have seen are unproductive and no one would think they deserve $64,000 their first year.

I am into my second year of driving now and am on schedule to making a little over 60k gross in a year.

Having said all that now I admit my first few months was making me about the same pay I had been getting with pizza delivery.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

Attila's Comment
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My grandparents went from riding horses every day to owning cars in 20 years. They didn't even know what airplanes were or had electricity. All thst changed in 20 years. There technological leep was far further and faster than ours. So far technological advances has created more jobs than destroyed, this may change though. The biggest reasons I see middle class doing so well in the past was A) Europe and Asia were litterally raped and destroyed by wars, America untouched; B) The greatest generation, my grandparents, were mostly united as a massive group and when they demanded something they got it, mostly.

Boomers, who have the political and economic power now have and never will be united. My gen X are mostly free agents and mercenaries, we roll with the highest bidders. Millies are to young. My 2 cents, hope shiz changes, doubt it will.

Meper's Comment
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Brett, thank you! You always keep the 'light' shining where it needs to shine! I am one of those 'declining' middle class Americans. I have been feeling and seeing the demise for years now! America may be on her way back to the pre-1940's way of life. Corporate greed and worker abuse. As it stands now; more work and less pay. Higher prices; minimum to zero wage increases. To Fatsquatch and Attila; AMEN!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone on Trucking Truth! Stay safe!



Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Eckoh's Comment
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Nothing but a pathetic government and greedy corporate leadership. If the government did their job and slowly raised min wage to keep up with inflation other wages would of gone up with them.

The really tragic thing is there is no quick way to fix it. Inflation must be lowered as a minimum wage increase at this point will cause inflation to spiral out of control.

Rolling Thunder's Comment
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Brett, throwing out the data... Cool. I am glad you included that the real numbers are worse than what is presented by the Government. That is truth.

I can easily blame the baby boomers for this crap, or, blame my generation for being apathetic towards politics and morality and watch the politicians turn the people in this country into a bunch of whiny, politically correct, well... sheeple. I`m not going to though. It is good to know how we got to this point so as not to repeat it. I am going to focus my energy on making it right again for my, and your, kids and grand kids.

I will no longer demand "something change" because of emotion that is being stoked by some talking heads on TV. I believe making laws, or regulations based on emotion are always wrong. Good intentions without any forethought to the long term effects.

I will Work my ass off with an ethic that puts me in the position to get that higher pay. Where is the incentive for the evil corporations to pay us more? Right here.

Think about it. Generations before ours were hard working, gritty and resourceful. Nowadays we have technology pushing that mindset out under the guise that it is making our job "easier". Bulls**t.

That`s just me though

Here`s to a great new year for the trucking family


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Attila's Comment
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I don't blame anyone, my observation was America has stiff competition now from all the world unlike the 50's where most of it laid in ruins or was under communist rule. No competition was awsome for the American middle class for decades. Well the communist curtain has been lifted or radically altered and the world has rebuilt. I think that is by far the most important reason for the decline of the American middle class.

Secondly about generational differences, the alignment is not right or shall I say things have not gotten bad enough to unify the groups. My gut feeling tells me that it's going to have to get a lot worse before all the different groups set aside their differences and form a united front.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Everyone had great responses!

The biggest reasons I see middle class doing so well in the past was A) Europe and Asia were litterally raped and destroyed by wars, America untouched; B) The greatest generation, my grandparents, were mostly united as a massive group and when they demanded something they got it, mostly.

Attila, you really nailed it as far as how we got here. That's exactly what it was....the world used American steel and bought American products to rebuild after WWII. Our factories were hummin' when the war ended from all of those years of buildup for the war itself. We re-tooled and turned allies into customers and nobody was in a position to compete with us. That took decades to play out. But once the rest of the world had rebuilt the foreign factories began springing up and the competition grew worldwide.

Nowadays our biggest problem is having too much wealth accumulating in the hands of too few and I think the answer for that was the same as it was a couple of generations ago....unions. You can't expect the Federal Government to dictate wages or redistribute the wealth. That's just not going to happen. You can't expect the people on top who are accumulating all that money to recognize the situation and remedy it. The workers are going to have to take it back. But that isn't going to happen anytime soon either.

One of the big problems with workers making demands is technology. Yes, technology at this point has definitely created more jobs than it has destroyed, at least in the technology field. But I don't think there are too many blue collar workers in America that owe their livelihood to technology. I think automation and other types of technologies are simply making businesses more and more efficient with less reliance on labor to get the job done. So when faced with finding ways to improve productivity companies can now turn to cheaper labor overseas or to better technologies here.

Another thing about technology is that it hasn't caught up yet. Most corporations still run their computer systems like we're in the 80's. I know several people that work at good size corporations and most of the people in the offices spend most of their time either printing things onto a piece of paper from a computer or entering things into a computer from a piece of paper. Probably 70% of the work being done in many of these offices could be eliminated by one person who really knows how to write and implement software properly. That kind of thing doesn't bode well for jobs in the future, both blue and white collar.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


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