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ATA: Driver turnover at large TL carriers gains 1 percentage point to 92%

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said poor weather during the first quarter could have kept a lid on driver turnover.

The Trucker News Services


ARLINGTON, Va. — 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.

While turnover is well above the low of 39 percent four years ago, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said it is far from the worst the industry has seen.

“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.”

In determining driver turnover, ATA among other things takes into consideration the waves created by the churn effect. For example, if a driver goes from carrier A to carrier B, that counts as two turnovers, as it impacts two companies. If a carrier creates 10 new positions, that is counted as 10 turnovers. And of course drivers who just leave the profession and those who retire are also counted into the mix.

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