Walmart is raising pay for long-haul truck drivers, a taxing job that is increasingly difficult for companies to fill.
Walmart (WMT), one of the few retail chains that runs its own trucking fleet, said it’s raising the average starting salary for first-year drivers from around $88,000 to a range of $95,000 to $110,000.
Walmart needs drivers to deliver goods to stores and e-commerce warehouses, as well as meet growing demand for customers’ online orders. Walmart added more than 4,500 drivers last year, a record hiring spree for the company, which employs around 12,000 truck drivers.
The latest pay bump will “help us continue to hire aggressively to meet all-time high demand from customers,” a Walmart spokesperson said in an email.
Walmart is also trying to hire new drivers internally. It started a three-month development program for its supply chain workers in select areas to earn their commercial driver’s licenses and become Walmart truck drivers.
A shortage of truck drivers during the pandemic has pressured supply chains. Around 70% of American freight moves on trucks,
Turnover is high in the trucking industry and the job is notorious for its long hours, weeks spent away from home and low pay. It’s also physically demanding.
The median pay in 2020 for heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers was $47,000, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Companies have raised pay to recruit drivers and stay competitive, but the trucking industry said last year it was still short 80,000 drivers.