A new survey conducted by Transport Capital Partners (TCP) finds that most motor carriers now expect only limited driver pay increases to occur this year, though freight volumes should hold steady.

“Carriers are in a tactical seasonal strategy - the first quarter being weak in loads, more drivers being available from construction in northern climates, and deep cutbacks in truck purchases over the last couple of months,” noted Richard Mikes, a TCP partner, in a statement.

“The longer term struggle between business caution and the need to improve driver staffing via driver wage levels will be interesting to watch in 2016," he added.

TCP found that 70% of the motor carrier executives it polled only expect wage increases of 1% to 5%, with 22% of the executives in its survey expect to see no increases at all.

The firm also noted that, given the poor economic results during the fourth quarter of 2015, it is not surprising that growth increase expectations among trucking company executives for 2016 are at their lowest levels since the fourth quarter of 2012.

Only one-third of carriers are expecting volume increases in 2016, TCP reported; a number that number was almost twice as high compared to the same point last in 2015.

Furthermore, half of all survey respondents are looking toward a flat year ahead – the highest percentage of carriers expecting volumes to “remain the same” in the history of TCP’s survey, the firm added.

That isn’t to say pessimism is completely clouding trucking’s outlook at this point, as one third of the carriers polled by TCP are still expecting increases in freight volumes, with only one sixth expecting decreases, noted Steve Dutro, another TCP partner.

“While volume and rate expectations have tumbled, there is still no fear of a looming recession in these results,” he said.