Driver turnover rate slipped at large carriers to close 2018, grew at smaller carriers

The annualized driver turnover rate at large truckload carriers sank by 9 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to ATA’s quarterly update on turnover rates. ATA measures large truckload carriers as those with more than $30 million in annual revenue. Smaller truckload fleets, those with less than $30 million in annual revenue, saw driver turnover rates climb, however.

The turnover rate at large fleets was 78 percent, while turnover at small fleets averaged 77 percent, 5 percentage points higher than the quarter prior. For all of 2018, the turnover rate was 89 percent at large truckload carriers and 73 percent for smaller fleets.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello attributes the decline in turnover at larger fleets to a few factors, including the general slowdown in freight demand seen in the last months of 2018.

“The driver market continues to be tight, but not quite as much as the middle of 2018. The overall trend late last year was that turnover is slowing,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “There can be various reasons for this – either freight volumes are decelerating and as such fleets pulled back on recruiting efforts or fleets’ efforts to increase pay are paying dividends in the form or reduced turnover. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but it is a trend that bears watching.”

Year over year, the turnover rate at large carriers was 10 points lower than the same quarter of 2017. Turnover at smaller fleets was down 3 points from the final quarter of 2017.

At LTL fleets, turnover was unchanged quarter to quarter at 10 percent and averaged 11 percent on the year.