In the first quarter of 2013, the turnover rate at both large and small truckload carriers rose due to the improving economy and continued competition for well-trained professional truck drivers.
“Our data shows that competition for drivers across the industry remains high,” says Bob Costello, American Trucking Associations chief economist. “It is our fear that this competition for drivers may be exacerbated by losses in productivity caused by recent regulatory changes such as the new hours-of-service rules.
According to ATA’s Trucking Activity Report, quarterly turnover at large truckload fleets--fleets with at least $30 million annual revenue--rose in the first quarter to an annualized rate of 97% from 90% in the fourth quarter of 2012. The rate was the highest it has been since the third quarter of 2012 when it was 104% and just below the average rate in 2012 of 98%.
At smaller truckload fleets, the rate rose to 82% in the first quarter from 76% in the previous quarter. The rate matches the 2012 annual average, but is below the most recent high of 94% in the third quarter of last year.
In the less-than-truckload sector, turnover jumped to 15% in the first quarter from 10% in the previous quarter. The increase pushes LTL turnover, historically much less volatile than the truckload market, to its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2005.
“If the economy continues to improve as we expect it to,” Costello said, “we’ll see competition for drivers intensify, which will increase not just the turnover rate and exacerbate the driver shortage, but will push costs for fleets higher as well.”