As Georgia tries to fill truck driver shortage, salaries continue to rise

Interstate 285
A new national survey found truck drivers are earning 18% more than they did in 2019. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

A shortage of truck drivers in Georgia and across the U.S. is leading to a spike in salaries for those in the profession.

A new survey from the American Trucking Association found truck drivers’ pay has jumped 18% since 2019.

“I call it the free agency of trucking,” said Bob Costello, chief economist with ATA.

He says many companies have found themselves paying signing bonuses to attract drivers.

“If you’re a driver and you have a good driving record, and you can pass a drug screening, you can change jobs for any reason you want. Drivers can have a job in a couple of hours. They’re in that such high demand,” said Costello.

The survey found the median salary for an over-the-road truckload driver was just under $70,000 per year. On average, so-called “last mile” delivery drivers made about $65,000.Those salaries are making it difficult for some school districts to compete for qualified bus drivers.

There are efforts in Georgia to reduce the trucker shortage and provide opportunities for young people to learn.

Earlier this year, Roadmaster opened a new truck driving school in DeKalb County. And Atlanta-based Coca-Cola announced an investment to help boost truck driver training at Georgia’s technical colleges.

Costello says a pilot program that will allow truck drivers under 21 to haul across state lines will help attract younger drivers before they start exploring other career options.

“If you go to a truck driver training school today and look at the average age of a person being trained to be a truck driver, they’re in their 30s,” said Costello. “With a lot more training and a lot more technology on the truck, getting these folks [ages 18-20] in, we think they can perform.”