How much does a truck driver earn in US by hour: what is the average salary?

how much does a truck driver earn in us by hour: what is the average salary?

A truck driver carries Peugeot cars from a temporary parking in Malbouhans, eastern France on November 25, 2022. – Due to a lack of truck drivers, the Stellantis plant of Sochaux is not able to export all its cars and has to stock them on the Lure-Malbouhans desaffected airport, about 40 km from the industrial site. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images)

All major supply chains in the United States are dependent on truck drivers. These essential workers are responsible for ensuring grocery stores are stocked, drivers are able to pump gas, and retailers have goods to sell.

In the United States, seventy percent of freight is delivered by truck, so without these workers, supply chains would fall apart, particularly during the holiday season when shoppers begin to buy gifts online and in person.

In 2021, around 1.9 million truck drivers with an average salary of $49,887.96 worked to transport $671 billion of merchandise.

Which states offer the highest salaries for truck drivers?

If we were to take a sample of 1,000 workers in each state, the number of truck drivers varies widely. At the high end, in Arkansas and Nebraska, around 27 workers would be truck drivers, while in Hawaii and Rhode Island, that figure drops to six and seven, respectively. When looking at brute numbers, Texas (202,270) and California (179,450) are home to the highest number of truckers, with those in California earning a slightly higher salary on average ($52,130 vs. $48,150).

Washington has the highest mean annual salary for truckers, with only four other states offering wages that lead to an average above $55,000 a year.

State Hourly Wage Highest Salaries
Washington $27.49 $57,190
District of Columbia $27.18 $56,530
Alaska $27.13 $56,440
New Jersey $27.09 $56,340
New York $26.63 $55,390

The lowest average salaries are offered in West Virginia ($43,610), Florida ($44,980), New Mexico ($45,550), Maine ($46,350), and Alabama ($46,570). However, in US territories, the salaries drop pretty substantially, in part because the cost of living is lower:

  • Puerto Rico: $21,540
  • Guam: $35,680
  • Virgin Islands: $42,940.

The number of workplace injuries in the transportation and warehousing sector increased in 2021

Truckers are typically paid based on the miles they drive (i.e., more miles equals more money); Nevertheless, there are caps on the miles and hours truckers can spend behind the wheel. This number has changed over the years, with the most recent alteration coming in 2020 under the Trump administration. Current federal law allows truckers to be scheduled on fourteen-hour rotations, up for twelve hours, which was the standard before the legal change went into effect in 2020.

Deregulation in the trucking industry has led to a severe deterioration in the conditions of drivers, which has sent many fleeing to other sectors in search of higher salaries. Until the 1980s, trucking was highly unionized and regulated. After a series of laws aimed at curtailing union power was passed, workers lost much of their strength as they were forced to compete with each other, and the sector now struggles to attract the workers necessary to keep supply chains operating efficiently.

The International Brotherhood of International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a few other workplace safety groups opposed the legislation, calling it “flawed” and fearing that it would “further exacerbate the already well-known threat of fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers by significantly weakening current hours-of-service rules.”

How has the new legislation affected the safety of drivers?

Transportation, particularly trucking, is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, recording nearly 1,000 deaths in 2020. The workplace injuries and fatalities report for 2021 will be released in mid-December, at which point information on how the new law impacted driver safety can be better evaluated. Based on the data that has already been released, the number of nonfatal injuries in the transportation and warehousing sector, which includes truckers increased from 206 in 2020 to 253 in 2021.

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