ATA: first quarter driver turnover a ‘muddled picture’

Updated Jul 21, 2019

The latest report on turnover rates for drivers in the trucking industry presents what the American Trucking Associations calls a “muddled picture” of the labor market for truckers.

While freight growth may be weak, the demand for qualified drivers remains strong, according to ATA’s Chief Economist Bob Costello.  During the first quarter of the year, the turnover rate at large truckload fleets increased five percentage points. However, the rate at smaller fleets fell four points during that same period.

“While the market for drivers in certain segments continues to be tight, we’re seeing the impacts of a softer freight environment,” said Costello. “Despite weaker freight growth, it is clear that there is still strong demand for quality drivers industry-wide, which will continue to put carriers under pressure to recruit and keep good ones.”

The turnover rate at large truckload fleets (those with more than $30 million in annual revenue) in the first quarter was 83% — 6 percentage points lower than 2018’s average and 11% lower than the same quarter a year ago. At smaller truckload carriers (those with less than $30 million in revenue), the rate fell to 73% — the same rate as 2018’s first quarter.

Turnover at less-than-truckload fleets was up eight points to 18%, the highest level in 15 years, but well below truckload driver turnover, according to the ATA.