Slowing demand for hauling and shipping services pushed driver turnover at the big freight companies to a five year low in the third quarter, the American Trucking Associations said Friday.

The driver turnover rate at carriers with more than $30 million in annual revenue dropped two points to 81 percent in the quarter, the ATA said. That was the third consecutive quarterly decline this year and the rate now stands at its lowest point since the second quarter of 2011.

“Ongoing softness in the freight economy has contributed to an easing of the market for drivers and a reduced turnover rate,” said Bob Costello, the trucking trade group’s chief economist. “Since the end of the third quarter, we have seen signs that we may be reaching the end of the poor inventory cycle that has driven a lot of the weakness in the freight economy, so we may see turnover rates rebound in the months to come.”

The turnover rate at smaller truckload fleets rose one point to 80 percent and turnover at less-than-truckload, or partial load, carriers fell three points to 9 percent, the ATA said.

“Despite the falling turnover rate, carriers continue to report difficulty finding well-qualified drivers, a problem that will not only persist, but which will get worse as the freight economy improves,” Costello said.

Related: Truck Driver Shortage Threatens American Consumer Lifestyle

About The Author

Jerry Hirsch

Jerry Hirsch is a veteran business journalist who is Editor and Vice President of Content of Prior to joining, Hirsch was nationally known as the automotive writer for the Los Angeles Times. His work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, the Toronto Star, Consumers Digest and many other publications. He can be found on Twitter: @JerryHirsch.

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