Snowplow Driver Shortage as Winter Season Ramps Up

Morristown Minute

As the worst of the winter months approach, the tristate area is scrambling for more snowplow drivers as a shortage leaves the northeast unprepared for winter.

Connecticut this year has seen a 13% decrease in snowplow drivers, that's down from previous years when the state and tristate area were already struggling with a snowplow driver shortage. The shortage is likely due to many factors, the most impactful being a recent string of retirements and a limit of drivers with a commercial license.

Private companies in the tristate area have even had to reduce their customer list due to supply shortages for snowplow parts and a lack of drivers and raise prices an average of 15%. Add on to this the fact that fuel prices have doubled in the last few years and salt prices are up about 30% from previous years. 

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Snowplow driver pay by companyZipRecruiter

As we approach a winter season that becomes more unpredictable every year, New Jersey and our neighbor states are left understaffed and unprepared for the potentially heavy snow season.

New Jersey snowplow drivers are highly sought after and pay is becoming more competitive this year. In previous years, hourly pay for snowplow drivers ranged from $12 per hour to around $40 per hour with some states offering even higher wages this year due to a national shortage.

The average annual pay for snowplow drivers in New Jersey is just under $45,000 or $22 per hour. Salary for drivers may increase based on skill level, location, and experience. Of all fifty states, New Jersey ranks 34 out of 50 for best snowplow driver wage in the country. As a state located in the northeast, accustomed to heavy snow, this is not a good look for the NJ DOT. 

New Jersey Department of Transit is this year offering more competitive wages for snowplow drivers in an attempt to better prepare for this winter season. The highest paying cities in New Jersey for snowplow drivers are Newark, Camden, Paterson, and Jersey City.

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Snowplow driver pay by NJ cityZipRecruiter
This lack of drivers means longer working hours for those few snowplow operators NJ has, which in turn makes the job more dangerous for the workers. Drivers are often asked to work twelve-hour shifts, and many of these drivers leave their snowplow job at the end of their shift to go work another job for the remainder of the day. This means exhaustion is a major problem for NJ snowplow drivers.

Additionally, New Jersey roads are notoriously ill-prepared for winter. Pothole repair is a major concern for our state as many repairs are rushed prior to the winter season leaving repairs new and allowing snow and ice to tear into repaired roads and cause more damage. Poorly maintained roads that are further damaged by winter conditions in addition to icy, snowy roadways make the job of snowplow drivers exceedingly more dangerous and add significant risk to all drivers on the roads.

Last year, 2020, New Jersey spent $118 million too salt roads, which is three times what was spent in the 2019 season, and that number is continuing to rise. Until NJ remedies its supply chain shortages, lack of drivers, and deals with the increasing price of gas and salt, our state will see a steep incline in money spent to prepare for the winter season in the coming years. 

If you have a commercial driver's license you can apply to be a snowplow driver by emailing the DOT north region at SnowVolunteers.North@dot.nj.gov. The NJDOT will train you and offer a "competitive wage" to encourage snowplow driver signups. 

Snowplow drivers may be asked to work a maximum of sixteen continuous hours with a minimum of four hours off between shifts. A normal shift for NJ snowplow drivers is noon to midnight or midnight to noon.

For more information on snowplow driver opportunities in New Jersey go to State.NJ.US/Transportation.

Sources:

https://www.state.nj.us/transportation/

https://www.state.nj.us/transportation/about/winter/pdf/wost_faq.pdf

https://abc7ny.com/snow-plows-plow-shortage-connecticut-state-of-emerge…

https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Snow-Plow-Driver-Salary--in-New-J…

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