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Big or small, driver turnover hitting carriers hard

Regardless of the size of the carrier, the driver turnover trend is hitting fleets equally hard. Turnover is nearly equal at both large carriers - those with more than $30 million in annual revenue - and small carriers.

According to the American Trucking Assns. (ATA), turnover at large truckload fleets was at an annualized rate of 96% in the fourth quarter. While that is a slight drop of 1 percentage point, it remains high and points to continuing concerns about the driver shortage, which ATA is estimating as high as 40,000.

Turnover at small truckload carriers rose 1 percentage point to 95%.

“We’re seeing the turnover gap between small and large carriers narrow to levels we haven’t experienced in some time,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “This is likely the result of larger fleets raising pay, offering bonuses and attracting more and more drivers from smaller fleets to fill seats.”

Read more: No end in sight for worsening driver shortage

For the year, large truckload turnover was 95%, down one percentage point from 2013, but turnover at small fleets was 90% – up 11 points from the year before. The five point gap between the two turnover rates is the smallest since 2000.

(Listen to Bob Costello explain the factors influencing the driver shortage)


“These figures show us that the driver shortage – which we now estimate to be between 35,000 to 40,000 drivers – is getting more pervasive in the truckload sector,” Costello said. “Due to growing freight volumes, regulatory pressures and normal attrition, we expect the problem to get worse in the near term as the industry works to find solutions to the shortage.

The turnover rate at less-than-truckload fleets was 10% in the fourth quarter, down from 13% in the previous quarter. For all of 2014, the turnover rate was 11%, unchanged from the year before.

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