MARKHAM, ILLINOIS --
Alex Topolse parks at a truckstop in Markham, Ill.
After years of spending long hours behind the wheel without seeing their paychecks grow, truck drivers now find themselves at the center of a bidding war. Many freight haulers have in the past year pushed through their biggest raises in decades. Truck-stop job boards and satellite radio airwaves are saturated with want ads, some advertising sign-on bonuses topping $5,000 and even free bus tickets to drivers willing to switch employers. Companies are tricking out their fleets with satellite televisions and other amenities to make life on the road a little more comfortable. It’s a bonanza for drivers like Alex Topolse. The 35-year-old Auburn, Maine, resident said he went from flipping burgers to handling a tanker truck hauling chemicals in 2013. He said he liked the work but jumped to a different company that allowed him to spend more time at home—and offered a 50% raise. He said he is on track to pull in nearly $70,000 this year. “It was a lot better income for doing basically the same job, hauling the same product and going to the same customers,” Mr. Topolse said. “It just made sense.”
CREDIT: Alyssa Schukar for The Wall Street Journal