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Driver turnover in TL section drops 14 percent, but said likely to increase

The industry is still short between 20,000 and 25,000 drivers in the truckload sector – a figure that a healthier economy will only force to grow, the ATA said. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

3/13/2013

ARLINGTON, Va. – The turnover rate for drivers in the truckload sector took a surprising dip in the fourth quarter, according to the American Trucking Associations’ Trucking Activity Report, the likely result of a weakened economy and overall freight volumes.

Turnover at large truckload carriers dropped from an annualized rate of 104 percent in the third quarter to 90 percent, its lowest point since the first quarter of 2012. For all of 2012, turnover averaged 98 percent, the highest since 2007 when the churn rate averaged 117 percent.

At smaller truckload fleets, the turnover rate dipped to 76 percent from 94 percent in the previous quarter. Small fleet turnover averaged 82 percent in 2012 – the highest since 2007’s average of 90 percent.

“As freight volumes slid a bit at the end of 2012, we saw turnover follow suit,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “However, this is just a respite from the long-term trend and driver shortage storm that’s coming when the freight economy accelerates; and even then, these relaxed levels are still quite high relative to recent years.”

Costello said as it stands now, the industry is still short between 20,000 and 25,000 drivers in the truckload sector – a figure that a healthier economy will only force to grow.

“Once we see steadier, more robust economic growth, we could see an industry that is short by as many as 239,000 drivers by 2022,” Costello said. “Hard as it may to believe, we may someday soon look back on turnover rates of just 90 percent as the good old days as increased demand, an aging workforce and regulatory constraints combine to push the shortage higher.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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