Study Shows Independent Owner Operators Earn More Than Employee Counterparts

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Truck drivers who operate independently are able to earn more than employee-drivers, according to a new study released today by the California Trucking Association (CTA) and the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP).

Truck drivers who operate independently are able to earn more than employee-drivers, according to a new study released today by the California Trucking Association (CTA) and the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP). According to research conducted by expert supply chain economist John E. Husing, Ph.D. of Economics and Politics, Inc., independent owner operators have the ability to earn up to six-figures with the median annual net earnings higher than their company driver counterparts.

The Owner-Operator Driver Compensation Study (study), commissioned by CTA, takes a detailed look at the earnings of California’s independent owner operators and estimates median earnings. Data from a total of 2,648 independent owner operators representing port drayage, over-the-road and refrigeration drivers throughout California were analyzed.

According to the study, independent owner operators earned $17,400 more than the median pay for employee drivers in California. The 2013 median net income for the independent owner operators was $59,478. In comparison, California Employment Development Department found that in 2015, company drivers attained median annual earnings of $42,078. Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 2014 median annual wages of employed drivers at $39,520.

The study found the 2013 median net earnings of the highest 25 percent of independent owner operators to be $102,087. The next 25 percent earned $68,936, the third 25 percent earned $47,005, and the last 25 percent earned $28,297. In conclusion, the majority of independent owner operators exceeded the median of $42,078 for company drivers.

“This study is a strong indication that independent owner operators continue to thrive” says Dr. John Husing, Ph.D. “Estimated to make up nearly 20 percent of all trucks on the road today, nearly 75 percent of independent owner operators are still earning more than company drivers.”

“In the last decade, the Inland Empire has witnessed our poverty rate soar from 11.8 percent in 1990 to 19 percent in 2012,” says CEO of IEEP, Paul Granillo. “However, as the fastest growing sector in our community, the goods movement industry has contributed to upward mobility for workers needing access to skill ladders leading to the middle class.”

“Some of the largest and most successful carriers started as independent owner operators with a single truck,” stated Shawn Yadon, CEO of CTA. “CTA will continue to support our professional drivers who choose to utilize the incredible entrepreneurial opportunity that comes from being a part of the trucking industry.”

To download the study, click here.

About the California Trucking Association

The California Trucking Association has been serving the commercial motor carrier industry in California, and the companies that provide products and services to the trucking industry, for 81 years. A critical and vital component of California’s economy, 78% of California communities depend solely on trucks to deliver their goods. Our carrier membership ranges from individual owner-operators, to small for-hire fleets, to the largest national and international carriers. Allied members of the California Trucking Association range from businesses involved with truck and trailer sales, parts and service, insurance, legal services and all other businesses that support the trucking industry.

About the Inland Empire Economic Partnership

An organization dedicated to jobs, leadership and regional advocacy for the Inland Empire.

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The California Trucking Association promotes leadership in the California motor carrier industry, advocates sound transportation policies to all levels of government, and works to maintain a safe, environmentally responsible and efficient California transportation goods movement system.

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Shery Yang
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