2014’s turnover rates underscore driver shortage problem

Driver turnover at truckload fleets – a barometer of the driver shortage – remained high in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Driver shortage continues to grow

According to American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello, turnover at large truckload fleets fell one percentage point to an annualized rate of 96 percent in the fourth quarter, while turnover at smaller truckload carriers – those with less than $30 million in annual revenue – rose one percentage point to a rate of 95 percent in the fourth quarter.

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

For the year, large truckload turnover was 95 percent, down one percentage point from 2013, but turnover at small fleets was 90 percent – up 11 points from the year before. The 5 point gap between the two turnover rates is the smallest since 2000.

“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 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 13 percent in the previous quarter. For all of 2014, the turnover rate was 11 percent, unchanged from the year before.