For-hire carrier driver turnover largely unchanged during Q1 2014

July 9, 2014

The driver turnover rate at large truckload carriers rose just one percentage point to 92% (annualized rate) in the first quarter of 2014, but held above 90% for the ninth consecutive quarter.

While turnover is well above the low of 39% four years ago, American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello says 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,” he says. “In 2005, turnover averaged 130%. In 2006, another year with a tight driver market, turnover averaged 117% for this group of carriers.”

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

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

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

Costello notes 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.