Story at a glance
- Walmart announced it was investing in its fleet of trucks, with drivers potentially able to earn up to $110,000 annually.
- The company is also offering a development program where people can be trained and earn their commercial driver’s license.
- There’s currently a national shortage of roughly 80,000 truck drivers.
Truck drivers at Walmart could see their salaries jump up to $110,000 annually, as the retail giant announced fresh investments in the company’s Private Fleet program.
Walmart employs approximately 12,000 truck drivers and is still in need of more, as the American Trucking Association (ATA) says there’s a national shortage of roughly 80,000 drivers. In order to entice new drivers, Walmart is investing in its Private Fleet, upping salaries as high as $110,000 depending on a driver’s tenure and location.
The average salary of a long-haul driver is $56,491, Walmart offering nearly double that.
Along with salary increases, Walmart is also launching a Private Fleet Development Program, a 12-week course meant to train drivers and help them earn a commercial driver’s license (CDT).
“The investments in pay and training build on multiple recent driver bonuses and improved schedules that enable drivers to spend more time at home. There’s never been a better time to join our fleet. Once drivers are on board, this is a job many leave only for retirement,” said Walmart, in a statement.
In an interview with Bloomberg, a Walmart spokeswoman said the retailer hoped to train 400 to 800 new drivers in 2022, after it had already hired 7,000 new drivers over the last two years.
Walmart hopes its in-house Private Fleet Development Program, which offers potential drivers the cost of obtaining commercial driver training, will entice even more to join the company. When obtained independently, CDLs can cost between $4,000 to $5,000 when done independently.
The trucking industry is notorious for high turnover, as it typically requires long hours away from home, time spent waiting at congested ports, warehouse and distribution centers while also carrying the burden of gas, insurance and maintenance costs.
The White House also attempted to solve the national driver shortage within the bipartisan infrastructure law, which included having the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provide $30 million in funding to help states expediate CDLs.
The law also included a 90-day challenge for employers to establish apprenticeship programs that would train new drivers, investing $8 million in national apprenticeship intermediaries that could help employers jumpstart the programs.
Those programs among others seemed to have worked, as President Biden announced this week that 2021 was the best year for trucking employment growth since 1994, with employment levels at pre-pandemic levels by 35,000 workers.
However, despite that progress, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg noted there is still a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers, estimating that 300,000 drivers leave the career every year.
“We must do more and do better to recruit more people into the job and to support them so they choose to stay in the job. And, that’s more than saying thank you, it is concrete, specific actions to help our trucking workforce thrive in this career. To make sure that trucking jobs are as high quality, as safe, and as well paid as they ought to be,” Buttigieg said.
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