Driver turnover rates increase at large, small truckload fleets

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Both large and small fleet saw an increase in driver turnover during the third quarter (July, August, and September) of this year, according to figures released Thursday, Dec. 19, by the American Trucking Associations.

The annualized turnover rate at large truckload fleets (those with more than $30 million in annual revenue) was nine points to 96%. ATA said that’s the largest quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2016 and its highest point since the second quarter of 2018.

The churn rate at smaller carriers also increased. ATA’s report shows it up by six points to 73% from its lowest level since 2011.

Turnover at less-than-truckload carriers dropped four points to an annualized rate of 9%. That’s the lowest level it has been at since the final quarter of 2017.

“Counterintuitively, we saw turnover rise even as the freight demand was relatively soft,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “While turnover rose at both small and large carriers, the reasons were quite different. Large carriers reduced the number of drivers they employed, in keeping with lackluster freight levels, but smaller carriers added to their driver pools, increasing their number of drivers by 1.9%.

“During the first two quarters of the year, larger carriers added drivers, but in the third quarter, they started right-sizing their fleets. Conversely, smaller companies increased their driver pool in the third quarter for the first time this year,” he said.

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