The junk removal industry is absolutely booming in the United States, which is quite impressive considering that the economic situation is overall quite bleak. Rising costs of living, gas prices at all-time highs, and stock market woes are all at the back of many Americans’ minds, prompting many to seek out new and more stable ways of generating a reasonable income (or to work a side hustle for a little extra).
Despite the weak economy in Q2 2022, junk haulers seem to be doing just fine. The total junk removal market is valued at over $10 billion and is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, factors like the exodus of Californians and New Yorkers to states like Texas and Florida, for example, will likely continue to drive strong consumer demand for quick and affordable junk removal and property cleanout services.
Junk hauling is lucrative, but is it right for you?
If you’re looking to become a junk hauler, ask yourself some simple questions first:
- Are you able to lift or move heavy, bulky objects from homes and businesses?
- Do you have a valid driver’s license (or CDL)? Can you hitch a trailer and haul junk to the landfill or recycling facility?
- Do you have decent soft skills? Customer service goes a long way!
- Do you want to be your own boss?
- Can you show up to a customer’s property on time, every time?
- Will you dispose of junk in a legal manner? Do you know how and where to recycle or donate junk to reduce landfill waste?
If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, junk hauling can be an exciting opportunity for you. It’s a job that rewards good, honest work and having some physical strength and willpower to get the job done safely and efficiently certainly helps as well.
Junk removal industry facts and figures
If you’re considering starting your very own junk removal business, you might want to know some facts and figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and what they report for junk haulers operating in the US.
Before getting started, keep in mind that there is no official NAICS occupational category called ‘junk hauler’ as it’s sort of a catch-all term for companies that pick up trash, unwanted junk, construction debris, yard waste, recyclables and haul it off for disposal.
Consequently, we will use a liberal estimate from various datasets provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to give you a rough idea of how much a junk hauler might make per hour and over a year.
Junk removal businesses and NAICS
Under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) system, the closest occupations under which a junk removal business might fall include:
- 562000: Waste Management and Remediation Services
- 562100: Waste Collection
- 53-7081: Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors
Employment growth from 2020-2030
According to the National Employment Matrix, which provides estimates for employment based on aggregate industry sectors, employment for junk haulers might fall under two different categories as shown below with respective employment and compound growth rates to 2030:
|Industry Sector||Employment 2020 (thousands)||Employment 2030 (thousands)||Employment change 2020-2030 (thousands)||Compound annual rate of change 2020-2030|
|Transportation and warehousing||5,555.1||6,189.2||634.1||1.1|
|Professional and business services||20,245.7||22,265.6||2,019.9||1.0|
Source: National Employment Matrix, Bureau of Labor Statistics
As a subset of either of transportation and warehousing or professional and business services, the junk removal industry is expected to outperform aggregate national employment from 2020-2030.
Junk hauler employment and wages in the United States
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on various industry and occupational categories that correlate to junk hauler employment numbers and wages as of May 2021 can be found in the below table:
|Industry||Occupation Code||Occupation Title||Employment||Median Hourly Wage||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Wage|
|Waste Collection||53-0000||Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||131,160||$20.78||$21.36||$44,440|
|53-7000||Material Moving Workers||78,280||$18.38||$19.64||$40,860|
|53-7081||Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors||62,280||$18.59||$20.20||$42,010|
|Waste Management and Remediation Services||53-0000||Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||205,210||$21.38||$21.74||$45,210|
|53-7000||Material Moving Workers||118,950||$18.41||$19.94||$41,480|
|53-7081||Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors||62,280||$18.87||$20.81||$43,270|
Source: Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics
The median hourly wage is slightly higher than the median national hourly wage (privately owned businesses only) of $18.97 per hour, but far below the mean hourly and mean annual range of $27.51 per hour and $57,210 per year, respectively. Keep in mind, however that a mean wage skews significantly upwards due to the high wages paid to CEOs and business magnates (e.g. mean annual wage of $229,580 for Chief Executives).
Generally speaking, junk haulers can earn a decent wage when working for a junk removal business and potentially much more when self-employed.
Variation in wage and demand by location
Keep in mind that your potential wage and the demand for junk haulers will vary quite a bit depending on where you intend to operate in the United States.
Generally speaking, junk haulers are paid much higher in metropolitan areas such as New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles (about $25-$30/hour median wage) than in Wyoming, Kentucky, or Arkansas (around $15/hour median wage).
In terms of demand by geographic area, most major metropolitan areas have high employment rates for junk haulers but, compared to the total employed population, are still quite high in demand (as well as paying higher wages).
How to start a junk removal business in the United States
If you’re interested in starting a junk removal business, the best time to get started is right now. Since the pandemic in 2020, the massive shift in employment patterns (e.g. remote work or moving out of the cities for more affordable rent, etc.) has stimulated a lot of activity for junk haulers in just about every county and state in the US.
Getting started with your very own junk removal business can be lucrative and rewarding, both financially and in terms of building a successful business that you can be proud of, but it does take a lot of work and some startup capital. If you’ve got a pickup truck and perhaps a box trailer, you can start your own barebones junk removal business for maybe $1,000 at a minimum.
We’ve put together a helpful guide on how to start your own junk removal business, so check out our older blog post: How to Start a Junk Removal Business.
Things to consider before starting a junk removal business
There’s a lot you should probably think about before starting your junk removal business, even if you’ve read our guide. Depending on your state, the process of applying for a small business license and the fees can vary quite a bit, for example.
Small details like this are important, but since there’s so much variation you’ll need to consult your state’s website for more information or consider hiring a lawyer to assist you with setting up an LLC or sole proprietorship and filing any other necessary documentation.
How much does it cost to start a junk removal business?
In terms of cost, we’ve outlined some rough costs for setting up a junk removal business in the above guide. It varies quite a bit, with absolute barebones minimum startup costs at around $1,000 all the way up to $30,000 or more.
If you already own a pickup truck and a valid driver’s license, getting started can be pretty inexpensive if you’re tight on cash. The fees and taxes you simply cannot avoid include licenses and permits, which vary from state to state. Following these expenses, insurance is strongly recommended just in case anything goes wrong, but it is not an absolute necessity.
The two most important things you will need are the willingness to do the job and two good, strong arms to move around furniture, mattresses, or whatever other type of junk your customers want hauled off.
More practically speaking, around $30,000 should be enough to get your business off the ground reasonably and without penny-pinching. A good used truck is the first thing you’ll need, so be prepared to pay the lion’s share (maybe $20,000+) for a decent pickup truck. Following that, you’ll want to spend a few thousand on a good box trailer or utility trailer for bigger hauling jobs. Next, get a good dolly for moving around heavy, bulky items as well as straps/bungee cords and blankets to secure big loads.
Other expenses can vary a lot more, such as rent/lease for commercial property as required, employee payroll and taxes (if you are hiring employees), computers and software for scheduling, taxation, etc., and various other expenses involved in day-to-day operations of your business.
How to get leads for your junk hauling business
Perhaps one of the biggest variables for an independent junk hauler is marketing. Franchisees working with the big national brands don’t need to worry about this, and they’ll get lots of leads simply due to their powerful marketing muscle. Meanwhile, you might throw a few thousand of your hard-earned money into online advertising or advertising in your local newspaper or radio station only to get a few leads – hardly a worthwhile investment.
What you can and should do is buy lawn signs, print out flyers and drop them off at the laundromat or attach them to corkboards in community centers. This will help you generate some quality leads from residents in your area.
You’ll also need to be online. In this day and age, just about everybody uses the internet to find businesses, including junk haulers. If you haven’t got a social media profile (e.g. on Instagram, Facebook, or in online directories) or a good website that ranks well on Google, your business basically doesn’t exist in today’s day and age.
The easiest solution to the problem of marketing is to work with a platform that helps generate quality leads for junk removal businesses such as JunkGator. We do the online marketing while you do the hauling for your new customers.
Is it worth starting a junk removal business?
Investing your time, energy, and money into a new venture always comes with some risks, but we believe that starting a junk removal business is just about the best investment you can make in the coming years. Of course, it needs to be repeated that you’ve got to enjoy the work itself, or at the very least you need to tolerate it.
Compared to working for a junk removal company or going down the franchise route, starting your very own business that is 100% yours is definitely the best route. The low startup costs and freedom to choose your own clients, working hours, and the freedom to do things your way make junk removal one of the best businesses you can start.
Start your business and get leads with JunkGator
Do you own a junk removal business in the United States, or are you planning to start your own business? One of the biggest challenges for an independent junk removal business is finding quality leads from customers in your area.
That’s why JunkGator makes it easy and affordable to build your brand and get your business information out to everyday Americans searching online for “junk removal” in your area. Become a member partner today and start getting high-quality leads for the low price of only $40/month.