Walmart raises pay for US truckers to $110,000, launches recycling program

LOS ANGELES, April 7 (Reuters) – Walmart (WMT.N) said it was raising starting pay for its 12,000 long-haul truck drivers who deliver goods to its stores and Sam’s Clubs locations amid ‘a driver shortage in the United States that threatens to prolong supply chain grunts and shortages of goods.

Qualified drivers – who tend to be between 40 and 50 years old, according to government and industry officials – remain in short supply. Federal limits on daily hours of work, the COVID-19 pandemic and other hurdles have prompted many truckers to quit.

Walmart Inc is also following rival Inc (AMZN.O) in encouraging employees in other roles to retrain for in-demand transportation jobs needed to reduce supply chain bottlenecks and support their online operations.

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Walmart drivers were already among the highest paid in the country. Today, the world’s largest retailer is upping the ante by resetting starting salaries for truckers to $95,000 to $110,000 a year from $87,500 previously.

That far exceeds the 2020 median salary of $47,130 for U.S. big truck drivers, whose “real” earnings have lagged inflation and effectively remain at around 70% of what they were in the 1970s, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the bureau, about 1.9 million large truck drivers ply the country’s roads.

Walmart’s move could bolster its competitive advantage at a time when safe, experienced 18-wheeler drivers are in short supply and as Amazon builds its own network of trucking contractors. Read more

“We’re proud to announce wage increases to ensure Walmart remains one of the best companies in the world to drive for,” said Karisa Sprague, Walmart’s senior vice president for supply chain human resources. , in a press release.

Consumer demand for everything from food to furniture has skyrocketed during the pandemic. This has overwhelmed resources – from truck availability and seaport capacity to warehousing and distribution space – blocking the flow of goods and driving up costs.

At Walmart alone, supply chain costs were $400 million higher than expected in the fourth quarter ending Jan. 28, which included the all-important holiday shopping season, the company said.

Recent data suggests pandemic demand may decline.

Commerce Department data released last week suggests that pandemic-fueled purchases of physical goods may have peaked as consumers resume spending on travel and entertainment. Read more [Graphic:]

Walmart continues to invest aggressively in and is following Amazon in creating a pathway for employees to transition into transportation jobs to support e-commerce logistics.

Walmart’s 12-week in-house trucking training program enables employees to earn their commercial driver’s license and become full-fledged Walmart Private Fleet drivers. Walmart supports the cost of approximately $4,000 to $5,000 of this training.

The company, which pays signing bonuses of up to $10,000, hired a record 4,500 truckers last year, bringing its workforce to about 12,000. It has already graduated 17 new class drivers in Texas and Delaware, and plans to expand the program this year with the goal of training between 400 and 800 drivers to transport goods to its more than 5,300 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the United States.

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Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Arriana McLymore in New York; edited by Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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