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Rate of women truck drivers reaches all-time high

12/15/2021

More women are driving truck for a living than ever before.

Employers in general — and motor carriers in particular — are broadening their search area to grow their base of truckers. They're increasingly turning toward women who at present account for less than 10% of truck drivers as a whole.

Yet based upon some recently released data courtesy of the American Trucking Associations, more women are successfully obtaining their commercial driver's licenses than ever before.

As of 2020, the latest year in which statistics are available, women constitute 7.8% of the United States' professional truck driver workforce, according to American Trucking Associations' newly released American Trucking Trends Report. While there remains plenty of room for improvement, nearly 8% represents the highest percentage of female truckers on record and is more than a full percentage point jump from 2019, when it was 6.7%.

For whatever reason, trucking has always been a profession consisting primarily of adult males. But with employers dramatically raising starting salaries and increasing various other benefits to encourage individuals to apply, more women are throwing their proverbial hats into a historically male-driven line of work.

Wages are up 5%
Pamela Williams, who's been driving a truck professionally for approximately seven years, told National Public Radio that the rate of pay was a major selling point for her.

"I can go out here and drive a week and make a thousand dollars – a quick thousand dollars doing something that I like to do," Williams said. She added that this could be the start of a renaissance, with more women suiting up — and buckling up.

"Guys, you better watch out, 'cause this right here is a women's industry from now on," Williams quipped.

Though stated half tongue-in-cheek, there's a basis for her confidence. While the aforementioned ATA data found that 7.8% of truck drivers in the nation are women, a separate poll reported by Bloomberg found the makeup could be as high as10%. And according to FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller, it's not unusual for fleets to be as much as 25% women.

Regardless of the sexes, the fact that more individuals are joining the fold comes as welcome news for the trucking industry, given the growth in demand for trucking services. There are currently 3.3 million professional truck drivers nationwide, according to the American Trucking Associations Trucking Trends study. That's up from Department of Labor's estimate of 1.9 million.

The growth in drivers may be tied to climbing wages. Like Williams, trucker Tiffany Hawthorn told NPR that salary was definitely what piqued her interest, now making $70,000 per year. A mother of two young sons, Hawthorn said financial stability has made all the difference for her family.

"I'm not struggling like I was before," she said. "I have more of a peace of mind now."

According to the Department of Labor the average hourly salary for truck drivers is $22.66, based on 2020 figures. In the last year, however, the average has jumped to $27.50, a roughly 5% increase.

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