- Old Dominion Freight Line expects to hire 800 truck drivers over the next three months, according to a press release Thursday. The firm will fill the roles through combination of hiring new employees and training current employees.
- The carrier has more than 1,200 openings for drivers, dock workers and clerical positions. The hiring push is "in response to a strong economic recovery with robust freight demand" and tight capacity, Old Dominion said in the release.
- Old Dominion is offering new drivers average annual pay ranging from $73,000 for pickup and delivery drivers to $99,000 for line haul drivers, according to the release. The firm is also offering qualified Class A CDL holders a $5,000 sign-on bonus.
The pool of available drivers and contractors is shrinking, and competition for the remaining lot is heating up. Fleets are expanding recruitment efforts, for drivers and other workers, by bumping up pay and announcing hiring pushes before an expected influx of demand stemming from recovery of the pandemic.
Sysco announced at the beginning of February it was staffing up with thousands of drivers for its private fleet, warehouse workers and others to prepare for anticipated upticks in volume. The company had ended 2020 with down volume, but it wanted to get ahead of the curve.
"We are intentionally retaining drivers, despite the volume decline in December, to ensure we have them available for our pending volume recovery. Drivers are in short supply across the country," President and CEO Kevin Hourican said during an earnings call. The hiring spree would add short-term expense, but Sysco said it was willing to invest for the pipeline of drivers.
For some fleets, investment means raising driver wages, and those that can spend the money have done so throughout the pandemic.
Last year, Schneider gave new team drivers with at least one year of experience an increase of 4 cents per mile, while new drivers with less than a year of driving experience received a 2-cent increase. Marten Transport, which operates a fleet of more than 3,300 tractors, spent $17.7 million on additional company driver pay in 2020.
Knight-Swift has given drivers "record increases" in wages over the last seven months, CEO David Jackson said during TPM 2021. But doing so "still has not put a dent, and not created any kind of inflection," in the number of drivers trucking needs to recruit in order to lessen the shortage, Jackson said.
Averitt Express announced it was also giving new-hires a raise. Regional drivers now start at 50 cents per mile, and pay increases to 52 cents per mile after one year with a hazmat endorsement. Regional flatbed drivers now start at 52 cents per mile, and that increases to 54 cents after one year with a hazmat endorsement, the company said.
Despite hiring efforts, truck transportation lost 4,000 employees off payrolls from January to February, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Data not seasonally adjusted shows a loss of 4,300 jobs, which shows "employment gains not only halting, but potentially reversing," according to a LinkedIn post from Jason Miller, associate professor of logistics at Michigan State University.
Miller noted that, because BLS data does not include most owner-operators, drivers switching from a company to being independent would contribute to a decline. "Carriers do not appear to be adding employee drivers, despite spot rates remaining blisteringly high," he wrote.
Old Dominion said it hopes to add 275 line haul drivers, 260 pickup and delivery drivers, 100 team drivers and more than 430 dock workers. The hiring competition between fleets isn't just for drivers.
"The biggest issue, in my view, is we're all in a battle for the vocational worker in the supply chain — whether that's at the warehouse, whether that's doing yard hostling," or whether that's a truck driver, Jackson said. "We all wish we had more vocational health in the supply chain."