No surprise for many owner-operators who have felt these numbers first hand: Net income for leased owner-operators and independents in the first three months of 2018 continued to march upward, with operators across all segments taking home more in 2018’s first quarter on average than the same time a year ago, according to ATBS, the nation’s largest owner-operator services firm.
Continuing the trend seen in the 2017 calendar year, flatbedders were the highest earners, taking home on average $17,328 in 2018’s first quarter. That’s a $2,100 gain from 2017’s first quarter, though a slight dip from the $18,875 from the final three months of 2017. Revenue for flatbed operators was up more than $5,000 from 2017’s first quarter (to $41,421) and up a few hundred dollars from 2017’s fourth quarter. Higher fuel expenditures cut into their bottom line, however. Mileage (22,498 in the first quarter) was flat compared to 2017’s first and fourth quarters.
Dry van operators earned $15,195 in 2018’s first quarter — an increase of almost $1,000 from the same quarter a year ago, but slightly down from 2017’s fourth quarter. Revenue ($38,299) was also up from 2017’s first quarter, but down a few hundred dollars from 2018’s first quarter. Like flatbed, mileage was flat, at 29,924.
Independent owner-operators earned $15,586 in the quarter on $38,628 in revenue. Their income grew by just more than $1,000 from 2017’s first quarter and was also up a few hundred dollars from the fourth quarter. Mileage was also flat, at 24,333.
Reefer haulers fared the worst in 2018’s first three months, taking home $12,671 in net income. That’s an increase of $1,100 from the same quarter a year ago, and flat compared to 2017’s fourth quarter. Revenue ($39,713) was also mostly flat from the fourth quarter, but up $3,300 from 2017’s first quarter. Miles driven, 29,924, was also down from both 2017’s first quarter and fourth quarter.
The revenue and income gains in recent months are well in line with other trucking economic trends of late, with available freight well outpacing the number of trucks, spurring big rate hikes over the past 12 months.