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January 23, 2019 4:45 PM, EST

Walmart Says It Needs 900 More Truckers This Year, Hikes Pay

Walmart A Walmart truck. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

Walmart is raising trucker salaries in its push to hire 900 more drivers this year across the United States, including Texas, where it has a big concentration of large distribution centers where empty trucks get filled.

Companies are competing for the best drivers as a shortage of truckers in the United States continues. Walmart is promising more predictable scheduling to be conscious of work-life balance and said it has shortened the time from application and starting work. Last year, it also started a $1,500 referral bonus.

In the latest hiring push, Walmart’s driver wages will rise by $14 million from a combination of a per-mile increase, activity and drop-off pay.

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That’s an average annual salary of $87,500 and 21 days of vacation in the first year. There also is potential for safety bonuses. Applicants must have at least 30 months of full-time commercial driver experience with no serious traffic violations in the past three years.

“This wage increase reflects the importance our private fleet and our commitment to recruiting and retaining the best drivers in the industry,” said Greg Smith, executive vice president of Walmart’s U.S. supply chain.

Walmart has had its own trucking fleet since the 1970s, when Sam Walton was putting together what was considered the most sophisticated of retail supply chains.

The company’s 8,000 drivers travel more than 700 million miles and deliver to 4,700 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores.

The trucking industry reached a 20-year peak for tonnage hauled in 2018. American Trucking Associations estimates the industry, which has 3½ million drivers, is short more than 50,000 drivers.

Walmart ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.

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