Indicators: Driver turnover rates continue to fall, e-commerce spurs freight

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Updated Dec 12, 2016

CCJ‘s Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.


The driver turnover rate at large fleets — those with more than $30 million in annual revenue — hit its lowest point since mid 2011.The driver turnover rate at large fleets — those with more than $30 million in annual revenue — hit its lowest point since mid 2011.

Turnover at lowest point since 2011’s 2Q: Annualized driver turnover rate a large truckload fleets fell to 81 percent in the third quarter, according to an American Trucking Associations’ report, released Dec. 8. That’s the lowest annualized turnover rate since the second quarter of 2011, ATA notes.

Soft freight has been the main force putting downward pressure on turnover, says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. However, Costello predicts freight and, subsequently, turnover rates will rebound.

“Since the end of the third quarter, we have seen signs that we may be reaching the end of the poor inventory cycle that has driven a lot of the weakness in the freight economy, so we may see turnover rates rebound in the months to come,” he says.

The turnover rate at smaller truckload fleets, those with less than $30 million in annual revenue, rose one point to 80 percent. Turnover at less-than-truckload carriers fell three points to 9 percent.

“Despite the falling turnover rate, carriers continue to report difficulty finding well-qualified drivers, a problem that will not only persist, but which will get worse as the freight economy improves,” Costello said.

E-commerce has been one of the main factors in 2016’s “second season” of freight, DAT says.E-commerce has been one of the main factors in 2016’s “second season” of freight, DAT says.

E-commerce boosts freight, rates: Online shoppers have spent $1 billion every day but one between Nov. 1 and Dec. 5, says loadboard DAT in their most recent weekly spot market report. Cyber Monday was roughly double that — $1.94 billion.

“Obviously, the goods had to get to distribution centers in order to be fulfilled,” DAT says.
“Load availability soared in places like Denver and Memphis. Both those markets are distribution hubs for e-commerce, which has stretched the traditional holiday retail freight season well into December.”

Inbound lanes to distribution hub Allentown, Pa., have also seen a holiday-related bump, DAT notes. Van rates on the lane from Columbus to Allentown have averaged $2.96 per mile in the past week, and Buffalo to Allentown is up to $2.98 per mile. In the West, the number of loads tripled on the lane from Denver to Los Angeles. Prices were also up on the lane from Denver to Phoenix.