- Walmart hired roughly 1,400 new truck drivers in 2018, a more than 50% increase from 2017, Yahoo Finance reported.
- The retailer credits a shorter hiring cycle, $1,500 referral bonuses and modernized recruiting practices with helping bring drivers on board in a tight labor market
- In terms of net fleet growth, Walmart hired 694 new drivers. The remaining 706 drivers hired make up for high rates of turnover, stemming from employee retirement or other sources.
The driver shortage in the trucking industry is in part a product of a historically tight labor market (with the unemployment rate at 3.7% in November), but it's also representative of a generational shift as older drivers age out and retire.
Targeting younger drivers has been a goal of trucking hirers in the last few years, with some carriers and legislators even pushing to lower the age required for drivers to cross state lines (currently 21).
Walmart has taken no stance on this issue, but the retailer has changed its tactics to focus more on social media recruiting to reach a younger audience. The company also shortened it's hiring cycle for drivers from 73 days to 31 days, according to the report.
Putting an even finer point on the current hiring crunch in trucking, Yahoo Finance reported a first-year driver at Walmart makes around $86,000 annually on top of quarterly safe-driving bonuses, health benefits and 21 days of paid vacation. The salary places a Walmart driver in the 89th percentile for individual income in the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal calculator created in 2016.
Driver compensation has been the largest source of cost increases for trucking companies since 2012, according to an American Transportation Research Institute report, and that trend is unlikely to subside barring a shift in the labor markets.