ATA: 2Q truck driver turnover down, but market still tight

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The driver turnover rate among truckload carriers declined during the 2006 second quarter, but the job market for professional drivers remains tight, the American Trucking Associations reported today, Sept. 15. ATA, which began collecting driver turnover statistics in 1995, reported annualized driver turnover rates fell for both large and small truckload carriers during the 2006 second quarter.

The large truckload carrier rate dropped to 110 percent from 116 percent in the 2006 first quarter; this was the lowest rate since the 2003 fourth quarter. Similarly, the small motor carrier driver turnover rate decreased 11 percentage points to 100 percent during the quarter when compared with the first three months of the year.

“Despite reduced rates among both groups, driver turnover remains relatively high by 1990 standards,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “This is a clear signal that the driver shortage has become more acute in recent years.”

The long-haul, heavy-duty truck transportation industry is experiencing a national shortage of 20,000 truck drivers, and this shortage is expected to increase to 111,000 by 2014 if current demographic trends stay their course and if the overall labor force continues to grow at a slower pace. Of the 3.4 million truck drivers on the road, 1.3 million are in the long-haul trucker segment, which is most severely impacted by the shortage.

Less-than-truckload carriers continued to post a low annual turnover rate, Costello says. The LTL line-haul driver annualized turnover rate remained flat at 13 percent during the 2006 second quarter, compared with the first three months of the year.

Costello says during the second quarter, large truckload carriers added 1.9 percent to their payrolls, while small carriers saw payroll gains of 2.2 percent. LTL carriers, meanwhile, reduced employment during the second quarter by 0.4 percent. ATA’s data is in line with Census Bureau data that shows for-hire trucking added 19,000 additional jobs since the beginning of the year.