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Turnover at large truckload carriers falls at year-end

| March 14, 2014
Economist Bob Costello said he expects stronger economic growth and increased growth for the trucking industry, which in turn will put more pressure on the driver market.

Economist Bob Costello said he expects stronger economic growth and increased growth for the trucking industry, which in turn will put more pressure on the driver market.

The turnover rate at large truckload carriers fell six percentage points to 91 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, but held above 90 percent for the eighth consecutive quarter.  

The decline was the second straight for the measure of churn in the driver pool. Still, that level continues to be elevated, said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

“We saw turnover at fleets with at least $30 million in annual revenue bottom out near 50 percent at the depths of the Great Recession,” Costello said. The rate has increased steadily since then and “appears to have flattened out at an elevated level for the moment. However, it could easily increase as tightness in the labor pool should continue, and even worsen, as the economy improves.”  

Turnover at small truckload fleets rose five points in the final quarter of the year to 79 percent, but was still below the 82 percent mark the figure hit in the first half of 2012. For the year, turnover at small fleets averaged 82 percent.   Turnover in the less-than-truckload sector fell two points to 11 percent in the fourth quarter, which was also the average for 2013.  

Costello said he expects stronger economic growth and increased growth for the trucking industry, which in turn will put more pressure on the driver market and the driver shortage.  

“At the moment, we already have 30,000 unfilled jobs for drivers in the trucking industry,” Costello said. “As the industry starts to haul more because demand goes up, we’ll need to add more drivers – nearly 100,000 annually over the next decade – in order to keep pace.”

  • g

    Very encouraging to know there is 90% annual Turnover at these “SAFE”?? companies??? They didnt even learn to drive yet and they already QUIT???? Really speaks well of Mega Fleets…by the way in the DEAD of winter those fleets STOP hiring…so the numbers will be far HIGHER in Peak Hiring season……..a Circus for sure…….

  • g

    So these large “fleets” hire BEGINNERS…and USE them for less than a YEAR…and suck up whatever Government SUBSIDY is available… longer NEEDING the Inexperienced 18 wheeler drivers..they encourage them to QUIT…..and bring onboard all NEW inexerienced “drivers”…..year after year after year???? Anne ferro and the Motoring public should be Thrilled!!

  • ironage

    Yet the low pay and mistreatment by these big OTR companies…..along with overbearing CSA regulations….continue unabated.

  • localnet

    It’s an improvement over the norm of 120%, just saying.

  • localnet

    I got a kick out of Costello’s improving economy remark. Which is the first thing that came to my mind why the turnover is a tad bit lower, fewer trucks and drivers on the road. The big guys found a sweet spot for now.

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  • Bay0Wulf

    I’ve been off the road now for almost 7 years. As a company driver I barely made it through the diesel price increase layoffs and then was caught up in later “adjustments”. I started working with a new company and was with them just over a years when they started having freight problems and started “parking” me all over the midwest for days at a time.

    At that time all I ever heard was that they “had” to let Mexicans start driving inside the USA due to a “lack of drivers” when there was NO freight. Since then the story continues to be a “lack of drivers”. When I talk to a company about how money today they mostly offer a similar arrangement as it was 7 years ago (a bit more per mile but when adjusted for inflation, less) and when we get to the “how many miles” part, I start getting a song and dance. It used to be that they would say something like 3400 miles (If you got 2800 you were lucky) but now they say that you “should be able to average $900 to $1200 p/wk”

    I have a CDL A / All Endorsements incl HazMat / Good Health Card … anybody care to enlighten me as to whether there actually ARE decent jobs out there?

  • Bay0Wulf

    I would guess that the same conditions that caused there to be a “shortage” have never changed (for the better).

    Long hours, overall lousy pay, all blame and fault for everything goes to the driver, dispatchers playing favorites or giving drivers impossible goals, receivers jerking the drivers around, lack of detention pay enforcement, screwy log book requirements which seem to get even stranger.

    The new HOS rules just sound … bizarre. EOBR’s seem even worse.

    All I wanted to do was drive a rig and make a decent living doing it. If I had to help unload or load … no problem. The rules make it increasingly tougher to do the job. The people on both ends (pick-up and delivery) make it hard to “keep going” and … parking regulations are over the top. I love areas where there are several warehouses with scheduled pick-ups and/or delivery and NO PARKING for MILES!!!

  • Allen Hartley

    Nope – they’re all the same – liars, crooks, and thieves – screw the drivers. The best I’ve figured out is to understand their system and see if you can get it to work for you – at least so you get screwed the least.

    I’ve worked in various industries and for all types of companies as a regular employee and contractor, but this is the WORST. At this point in life this is what I have to do so I make the most of it. Everything moves in cycles – sometimes just not fast enough.

    If someone started a company that actually provided a productive, positive environment for the drivers, they’d have them lining up at the door. The greatest chasm I see are the clueless/special interests driven legislators, all the lies and useless information spouted by the recruiters, trucking management that has NEVER been in a truck doing the job (We’ll hire you out of college and train you), the lack of companies recognizing and promoting the idea that EVERYONE has an important part in this business, and the general attitude that truck drivers are just “dumb ole key turners”.

  • wing

    no….. no….no..

    168 hours as otr driver…per week…one reset after 168 hours have passed..after two consecutive 1 am to 5 am break periods. so figure you work at McD’s for 38 hours as opposed to 168 for 800 a week take home.. remember, as long as you are not at the home terminal, not on duty, not responsible for the truck or load, you are off duty, but 168 of the week OTR, you are never legally off duty.
    Don’t think so, litigators got a 63,000,000 judgement from a driver and his company, even after he was off duty, on company vacation, as the jury said company did not allow driver to acclimate back to his night driving job after his vacation. he pays half, insurer pays half. he’s 65 now.
    He didn’t even start the 11 car pile up. two cars in the lead did…

    Do the math.

  • wing

    dang, i was gettin big headed and didn’t stop to think that i have been demoted from
    turner to
    key turner!

  • TomT

    I am retired. Been there and done that. Got screwed more times than I could list
    here. After 45 yrs., the best jobs I ever
    were union jobs, local work, home
    every night, twenty some dollars plus
    overtime at time and a half, health
    benefits and a pension for when you get
    old as I am now and retired. It is a little
    rough in the beginning as you have
    to buck the seniority list, but if you hang
    in there and do a good job, you`ll make
    it and be glad you did. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.