Improving freight market drives trucker turnover

Updated Dec 20, 2020

The annualized turnover rate at large and small truckload carriers rose by double-digit percentage points in the third quarter as the industry began bouncing back from a COVID-19 induced slump, according to a report earlier this week by the American Trucking Associations. Meanwhile, ATA says the annualized turnover rate at less-than-truckload carriers rose 2 points to 14% during the third quarter on an annualized basis.

“After a calamitous second quarter, trucking – along with the rest of the economy – began recovering in the third quarter, leading to a tightening of the driver market,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “With a more robust freight market, we saw an increase in carriers seeking drivers, which led to increased turnover. Additionally, the driver pool has decreased this year for a host of reasons, including fewer new drivers coming into the industry as truck driver training schools train fewer drivers due to social distancing requirements.”

In the third quarter, the turnover rate at truckload carriers with more than $30 million in annual revenue rose 10 percentage points to 92% on an annualized basis. The rate at smaller truckload carriers rose 14 points to 74%. Despite the increases, the 2020 average turnover rate is still running behind 2019.

“Ironically, turnover bouncing back is a good sign for the economy and for trucking,” Costello said. “The second-quarter drop was almost entirely the result of COVID, and with scientific light at the end of the tunnel, it is possible we will see continued strong freight demand into 2021, and corresponding increases in demand for truck drivers. And, driver pay continues to rise as competition for drivers is intense.”