Driver turnover rate rises slightly in first quarter

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The turnover rate at large truckload carriers rose just one percentage point to 92 percent (annualized rate) in the first quarter of 2014, but held above 90 percent for the ninth consecutive quarter, according to the American Trucking Associations’ quarterly report.

Though the turnover rate is much higher than the low of 39 percent — seen just four years ago — ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says the rate is better than at points in the last decade.

“While high, turnover at large truckload carriers is lower than other years when the driver shortage was as acute,” Costello said. “In 2005, turnover averaged 130 percent. In 2006, another year with a tight driver market, turnover averaged 117 percent for this group of carriers.”

Turnover at small truckload fleets slipped 1 point in the first quarter of the year to 78 percent, which was the second lowest rate during the past year. In 2005 and 2006, turnover averaged 96 percent and 109 percent, respectively, for this group.

Turnover in the less-than-truckload sector fell 1 point to just 10 percent in the first quarter, which was the lowest mark since the second quarter 2013.

Costello noted that poor weather during the first quarter could have kept a lid on turnover, and it could still rise as improved economic growth and healthier freight volumes put more pressure on the driver market and the driver shortage.

“Today, the industry has in the range of 30,000 to 35,000 unfilled truck driver jobs,” 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.”