The number of heavy truck or tractor-trailer drivers employed increased last year for the first time since 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of heavy truck drivers in the U.S. rose 2.9 percent in 2011 to 1.51 million, after falling 18.4 percent from 2008 through 2010, the BLS data show.
That means U.S. employers hired nearly 42,000 heavy truck drivers from May 2010 to May 2011, according to data released by BLS on March 27.
That’s still 16.1 percent short of the nearly 1.8 million tractor-trailer drivers employed in the U.S. in 2008 — the peak year for truck driver employment.
In fact, the 1.51 million figure represents the lowest number of drivers employed since 1998, according to BLS data, which do not include self-employed drivers.
The average pay for tractor-trailer drivers went up at a slower pace, rising 1 percent last year to $39,830, compared with $39,450 in 2010, according to the BLS.
The average annual wage of a heavy truck driver employed in “general freight trucking” rose from $41,100 in 2010 to $41,250 in 2011, the BLS data show.
The BLS data represent drivers of Class 8 tractors engaged in for-hire and private carriage, but not drivers of light trucks and other commercial vehicles.