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Owner-operators drive less, earn more through summer

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Months-long flatbed demand has continued, pushing owner-operator monthly net income above $1 per mile last summer.Months-long flatbed demand has continued, pushing owner-operator monthly net income above $1 per mile last summer.

Even with declining miles in recent months, owner-operators’ recent net earnings remained strong, based on a third-quarter report of clients using financial services provider ATBS.

Earnings varied considerably from month to month and among freight types, but generally rates peaked for the year from May through September, the most recent month in the report. The high point of net income for the combined segments, $6,003, came in August.

Miles in each segment began dropping after May. For the combined segments, miles fell to 8,109 in September, the lowest point of the year.

“Drivers are making more, so they’re running less,” says ATBS President and CEO Todd Amen. “They’re being more choosey on loads and taking time off.”

Among all segments, average income per mile peaked at 71 cents in August and dropped to 65 cents in September.

“I’m betting 2018 net income will average over $65,000, which is a great increase from 2017,” Amen says. Average income among ATBS clients has hovered around $60,000 in recent years.

INDEPENDENTS. Owner-operators with their own authority saw relatively little change in monthly miles. Income per mile, after a year’s low in January, 60 cents, hit a high of 76 cents in August.

Among leased operators:

FLATBED. Rates have been extremely strong for many months and continued to climb into the summer, and net income per mile hit $1.08 in June and August. The highest monthly net income was $7,635, in June.

DRY VAN. After flatbed, this segment had the highest monthly earnings of the year, $6,151, in August. Dry van net income fell to $5,419 in September.

REEFER. Haulers of refrigerated freight experienced the most narrow range of miles and rates of any segment. They began the year with 41 cents per mile net income and hit a high of 48 cents in August. September’s net income averaged $4,134.

How’s your income been for 2018? Comment below.

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