Truck Drivers in the US: Employment and Haul Statistics
There are approximately 3.6 million professional truck drivers in the United States, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Of these drivers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that more than 2 million drive heavy trucks and tractor-trailers, and more than 1.5 million are delivery drivers or driver/sales workers.
The ATA further reports that 7.95 million people are employed in trucking and trucking-related jobs in the U.S..By comparison, the second-largest freight hauling industry—railroads—employs about 1.1 million people in any capacity.
Number of Trucking Carriers in the U.S.
As of April 2020, the ATA states there are over 1.8 million carriers in the U.S. In 2018, 36.9 million trucks were registered for business use outside of government and farm work—and this is only 24.2% of all registered trucks.
Distance Driven and Tonnage Hauled by Truck Drivers
Registered trucks drove a combined 304.9 billion miles in 2018, carrying almost 12 billion tons of freight the following year. This makes up 72.5% of the total tonnage shipped domestically.
Internationally, trucks carry 67.7% of the surface trade value between the U.S. and Canada and 83.1% of that value between the U.S. and Mexico.
Railroads transported about 1.8 billion tons of freight in 2018, or about 15% of how much the trucking industry hauled.
2019 Truck Driving Salaries
The BLS reports the following 2019 median salaries for truck drivers:
- Heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers: $46,260 per year ($21.76 per hour)
- Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers: $32,020 per year ($15.39 per hour)
Truck Driving Job Outlook
The outlook for truck driving jobs in the U.S. is bright due to shortages in the industry and the growing need for truck drivers in a world increasingly reliant on online ordering and home delivery.
The ATA reports the industry has been battling shortages since 2005, with a brief break in that trend beginning in 2008—not because of increased employment, but because the number of jobs fell during the Great Recession. By 2018, the shortage had left 60,800 positions unfilled, and it’s believed the shortage could reach as high as 160,000 unfilled positions by 2028.
The industry is projected to hire approximately 110,000 new drivers each year through 2029, largely due to retirement and industry growth rather than people quitting the field.
The BLS reports heavy and tractor-trailer driving jobs are expected to grow by 2% (30,600 workers) between 2019 and 2029. Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales work jobs are anticipated to grow by 5% (75,000 workers) during that same period. These estimates are much lower than the ATA estimates but are based on unemployment rates rather than the number of open jobs.