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More Freight, More Money: The 5 Best States for Trucker Wages

Domestic production is alive and well.

The most recent PMI and ISM manufacturing indexes placed U.S. manufacturing at a score of 57.1 and 55.8, respectively, meaning the industry is doing well amid an overall economic recovery. As a result, more goods and services need to be transported, shipped and delivered to their end buyers, which is where freight haulers come into play.

Transportation services are benefiting from the recent upswing in production, which has seen consistent growth on both indexes since January 2014, coupled with the exponential rise in e-commerce over the past few years. Freight will always be available, but the question for the curious drivers out there is: Where exactly?

Here  are the five best states to find work and high wages:

1. Texas: We’ll avoid using the cliche here, but it’s actually true that salaries and jobs are much bigger in Texas than any other state in the country. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Lone Star State employs more than 157,000 truckers and pays $19.50 an hour and the average salary pinnacles $40,000 a year. Both of the latter payment categories align with the national averages. For the sake of having the most jobs, Texas is a great place for truckers to do work.

2. California: In what may not come as a surprise, the Golden State employs the second-greatest number of truckers in the nation at 126,490. Its mean hourly wage and salary slightly tops that of Texas at $20.45 and $42,530, respectively, but due to state regulations that require drivers to get their vehicles regularly checked for smog emissions and the highest diesel prices in the U.S., Cali falls below its Southern counterpart.

3. Illinois: The Land of Lincoln is home to the country’s third-largest city and is a gateway to the west in a sense because of its juxtaposed location between major east coast cities and the western part of the country. Illinois doesn’t come close in overall employment when compared to the top-two states, yet, it takes care of its drivers. Haulers are paid $21.66 on average and make more than $45,000 each year. Moreover, according to recently released statistics from the American Transportation Associations, Illinois is part of a Midwestern network of states that moves the highest percentage of inbound and outbound tonnage in the country at 18.1 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively.

4. Pennsylvania: The Quaker State is not notably flashy when it comes to overall employment and hourly wages, but its proximity to major East Coast markets makes it a state that not only pays on par with national averages, but also a place where freight will likely move through at one point or another. Truckers in Alaska can expect to make more than $20 an hour and earn up to an average of $42,340 each year, BLS statistics reveal.

5. Alaska: The open roads of the Last Frontier don’t exactly reflect Alaska’s nickname, which implies a relatively unsettled infrastructure. However, drivers in Alaska are paid higher than any other state in the country at more than $25 an hour and can gross over $53,400 on an annual basis. Although the state only employs some 2,890 truckers, the payroll positions per thousand jobs in the state is at just under nine, which is pretty good considering the population, per capita. North Dakota, for example, employs more than 15,000 truckers and pays nearly $23 an hour, but its employment per thousand jobs is more than 36. Trucking is having more of a local economic impact in the Land of the Midnight Sun, hence why it’s cracked the top five.

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