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Walmart addresses lack of truck drivers with new program, pay increase

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Walmart is rising the pay of its truck drivers.

Amid an industrywide shortage of truck drivers, the retail giant is raising the average starting salary for first-year drivers in its private fleet from around $88,000 to a range of $95,000 to $110,000, which the company says is nearly double the average long haul driver salary. Drivers who have been with Walmart longer can earn more, based on factors like tenure and location.

In addition, the company is launching a new program to attract new drivers. Known as the Walmart Private Fleet Development Program, the 12-week course enables the retailer’s supply chain associates in the Dallas and Dover, Del. areas to earn their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and became full-fledged Walmart drivers.

Walmart is using the existing training infrastructure from its Live Better U employee education benefits program, with established private fleet drivers who complete a company certification program serving as trainers. At the end of the classroom portion of the training, associates graduate with their CDL through Live Better U and are assigned a dedicated mentor to help them transition into their new role.

In addition, Walmart says that new investments in pay and recently added driver bonuses mean first-year private fleet drivers can earn up to $110,000 in their first year, which the company says is nearly double the average long haul driver salary. Drivers who have been with Walmart longer can earn more, based on factors like tenure and location.

Walmart faces truck driver shortage
Walmart is launching this new initiative to hire and retain more truck drives as it grapples with a larger issue facing the entire retail industry: a shortage of truck drivers. According to data from the American Trucking Associations, the U.S. trucking industry is short 80,000 drivers, an all-time high.

The shortage existed pre-pandemic, as evidenced by efforts Walmart launched to hire more drivers in 2018 and 2019, but has grown worse since then. Truck drivers move 71% of the U.S. economy's goods.

And American Trucking Associations projections for the next few years don’t offer much hope, either. Based on driver demographic trends, including gender and age, as well as expected freight growth the shortage could surpass 160,000 drivers in 2030.

In addition to aggressively recruiting new drivers, including from its own employee base, Walmart has also been actively utilizing driverless trucks in its supply chain. In November 2021, became the first company to use autonomous delivery trucks with no safety driver in the “middle mile” of its supply chain.

The discount giant is using multi-temperature autonomous box trucks from Gatik to move online grocery orders from a fulfillment-only dark store to a nearby Walmart Neighborhood Market store in its headquarters city of Bentonville, Ark.  Walmart is making the autonomous deliveries without having a human safety driver in the truck.

Our transportation team will continue to grow with our business, and we’ll continue to invest in them along the way,” Fernando Cortes, senior VP, transportation, Walmart and Karisa Sprague, senior VP, supply chain people, Walmart, said in a corporate blog post announcing the new driver program and payscale.It’s an exciting time to be part of one of the world’s largest private fleets, and we plan to keep hiring the best drivers in the industry to join our team.”

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