(CBS News) - The 8,000 truckers who work for Walmart are getting a raise, as the retailing heavyweight looks to hire hundreds more amid an ongoing shortage of drivers.
Walmart's bid to recruit more truck drivers had it running national TV ads in the fall, shortening the hiring process and offering referral bonuses of as much as $1,500. The company hired 1,400 new drivers in 2018, and "hundreds more are slate to join in 2019," according to Walmart.
Starting next month, truck drivers will get a per-mile hike of one cent and an extra $1 each time they drop a trailer at a destination, Walmart said Wednesday. That will bring average pay for drivers to $87,500 a year. The company also said people can expect predictable schedules, at least 21 days of paid time off and possible quarterly bonuses.
As of May 2017, the median annual pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $42,480, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Driver pay has since climbed, and by March 2018 came to more than $53,000 for a driver on a national, irregular route, the American Trucking Association found. The industry group projects the U.S. will be short 175,000 drivers by 2026.
Walmart requires job candidates to have at least 30 months of full-time commercial driving experience and no serious traffic violations in the past three years.
Walmart has had its own trucking fleet since the 1970s, with drivers making deliveries to 4,700 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores around the U.S.