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U.S. Truck Fleets See Jump in Driver Turnover

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The pace of driver turnover at both large and small truck fleets rose significantly in the second quarter of 2017.

“After a period of relatively low turnover, it appears the driver market is tightening again, which coupled with increased demand for freight movement, could rapidly exacerbate the driver shortage,” said Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations.

Most of the turnover is attributed to drivers jumping from one carrier to another rather than leaving the industry and being replaced by new drivers, according to the report.

“As demand for drivers increases, trucking companies try to take drivers from other carriers by offering sign on bonuses, newer trucks, and better routes,” the trade group reported.

For large carriers with revenue of more than $30 million, driver turnover rose 16 points to 90 percent, up from 74 percent in the first quarter of 2017. That is the highest since the final quarter of 2015. It’s also the largest quarterly jump since the fourth quarter in 2010, according to the ATA’s quarterly report.

Small carriers with less than $30 million in annual revenue also experienced double-digit turnover rates in the second quarter, soaring 19 points to 85 percent, up from 66 percent in the first quarter. This is the highest rate since the first quarter of 2016, Costello said.

Turnover at less-than-truckload fleets dropped one point to 9 percent. However, the rate for local less-than-truckload drivers jumped 14 percent, up two percentage points from the previous quarter – its highest level in three years. That segment of the industry combines partial freight loads in a semi-truck trailer.

“We predicted that last year’s period of relatively low and stable turnover could be short-lived if the freight economy recovered from 2016’s freight recession,” Costello said. “It appears those predictions were correct and we may be seeing the beginnings of a significant tightening of the driver market and acceleration of the driver shortage.”

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