Driver turnover falls at 2013’s end, still above 90%

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Updated Mar 18, 2014

Driver_PerformanceFor the eighth consecutive quarter, the turnover rate at large truckload fleets was above 90 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, though the rate did fall six percentage points to 91 percent, according to data released last week by the American Trucking Associations.

The drop also marked the second straight quarterly drop, ATA said, but the rate is still “elevated,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

“We saw turnover at fleets with at least $30 million in annual revenue bottom out near 50% at the depths of the Great Recession and have increased steadily since,” Costello said. “The rate appears to have flattened out at an elevated level for the moment. However, it could easily increase as tightness in the labor pool should continue, and even worsen, as the economy improves.”

The turnover rate for all of 2013 for large truckload fleets fell two percentage points from 2012 to 96 percent. That number is still well below 2005’s all-time high of 130 percent, ATA said.

Turnover rate at small truckload fleets — defined as those with $30 million or less in revenue — fell to 79 percent in the quarter and averaged 82 percent in the year.

Costello said he expects economic growth in 2014 and trucking industry growth in particular to put pressure on both the driver market and the driver shortage.

“At the moment, we already have 30,000 unfilled jobs for drivers in the trucking industry,” Costello said. “As the industry starts to haul more because demand goes up, we’ll need to add more drivers – nearly 100,000 annually over the next decade – in order to keep pace.”