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Cookeville, Tenn.-based Averitt Express announced July 13 it was raising pay for its less-than-truckload drivers as well as providing a new guaranteed weekly minimum for its regional and flatbed drivers and a shorter waiting period in receiving benefits coverage for its new hires.
Without disclosing the precise amount, Averitt called the pay raise “historic” for its LTL drivers. The raise went into effect in May for driving associates but also covered some other positions in the group.
Averitt also established a weekly minimum guarantee of $1,250 for its truckload regional and flatbed drivers.
We recently announced some exciting compensation news for our Truckload drivers that is a great tool you can use to refer People Like You! Effective July 24, we’ll begin paying a guaranteed minimum based on a full week of work availability!— Averitt Express (@AverittExpress) July 8, 2022
Learn more: https://t.co/uwiCh3byFf pic.twitter.com/ykYWzEGTQR
“Averitt is committed to taking meaningful steps to provide an exceptional experience for our associates that further establishes us as the employer of choice in our industry,” Averitt President Wayne Spain said. “It is an exciting time for Averitt right now. Coming off our 50th anniversary, we have seen incredible growth and success over the last 18 months, and it is because of that we are able to make these changes to our driver pay to remain one of the top paying carriers in the industry.”
In addition to the increases in pay for its drivers, the company said it shortened its waiting period for benefits to 30 days. This change applies to all full-time new hires and rehires and includes coverage for benefits such as medical, dental and vision insurance, 401(k), company provided life insurance, and holiday pay.
The company’s vacation and paid time off policies will also change and now employees can take paid time off after 90 days rather than waiting a full year. The company’s profit-sharing plan will also apply to both its full- and part-time employees.
“It is a priority for us to take care of our associates with comprehensive benefits, and now our associates can take advantage of these benefits even earlier,” Spain said. “Our outstanding benefits support the well-being of our associates and their families. That is an investment in our greatest asset — our people.”
While Averitt and dozens of other trucking companies have raised pay to remain competitive and retain drivers and other staff, the industry is still short at least 80,000 drivers, according to American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello.
Contract freight levels continue to be robust and the average age of drivers keeps increasing, he said.
A survey released May 31 by Conversion Interactive Agency and People Data Analytics (PDA) shows truck drivers are increasingly more interested in switching carriers, with 37.4% saying they are looking for a new job.
The Examining Driver Opinions in Today’s Driver Market survey also found that 62.4% of drivers are not looking for a new job. Compared with a year ago, the percentage of those who are looking increased from 36.4% and those who are not dipped from 63.6%.
“I don’t think it necessarily surprised me that it went up a little bit,” Scott Dismuke, vice president of operations at PDA, told Transport Topics. “The pay raises that the industry has seen over the last year and a half combined with the freight being very strong post-COVID, I think all of that kind of played into those numbers being relatively low as far as the drivers saying that they’re looking for a job. But we have started to see that tick up a little bit.”
Dismuke noted that drivers had been experiencing pay raises and a lot of miles since freight demand started surging during the pandemic. But he noted things appear to be correcting themselves somewhat. This could be affecting pay in some places, which could motivate drivers to look elsewhere.
“We still see a lot of marketing for higher pay and pay raises from companies,” Dismuke said. “A lot of aggressive marketing, aggressive recruiting. I think that all of that combined is why we at least saw in this survey an uptick in drivers saying that they’re looking for a job.”
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The year-over-year increase of truck drivers looking for a new job has not been consistent, however. A fall 2021 survey found the number of truck drivers looking for a new job was 34.6% while those who weren’t was 65.4%. That means there has been a 3% increase in drivers looking for a new job between then and the most recent survey.
The drivers surveyed gave various reasons why they are not looking for a new job. The top reason was liking the pay of their current carrier at 35.9%. Other reasons included liking the miles being provided at 5.9%, liking the freight being carried at 7.4% and being satisfied with equipment at 4.1%.
Averitt Express runs primarily in 18 states in the southeast. The company employs more than 9,000 people and operates approximately 4,600 tractors, 15,000 trailers and 140 facilities across the country.
Averitt Express ranks No. 32 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.
Staff reporter Connor D. Wolf contributed to this article.