March 14, 2014 3:00 PM, EDT
Truckload Turnover Remains Elevated, Heightens Driver-Supply Fears
Jin Lee/Bloomberg News

Truckload turnover hovered at elevated levels in the fourth quarter, American Trucking Associations reported, raising concerns about adequate driver supply in an improving freight market later this year.

The trade federation said churn at large truckload fleets, whose annual revenue is at least $30 million, was 91% last quarter, compared with 97% in the third quarter of 2013. Turnover at small fleets, with revenue below $30 million, rose to 79% from 74% in the third quarter of last year.

 “The good news is that [turnover] didn’t spike last year; the bad news is that it remained very elevated,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello told Transport Topics. “Turnover certainly has the potential to get worse as capacity tightens, freight increases and good drivers feel more empowered to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”

Pressure on all fleets to retain drivers soon could become more intense.

A March 11 survey from Bloomberg News and Internet Truck Stop found 78% of the fleets and brokers surveyed anticipate stronger freight volumes in the next six months. That was the highest percentage in 10 months.

Annual turnover is stuck at historically high levels, too. Large fleets’ turnover rate was 96% last year and 98% the year before. Small TL fleets dipped 3 percentage points last year, to 79% from 82%. Likewise, turnover in the fourth quarter was little changed from the 2012 period.

Less-than-truckload turnover was 11% in the fourth quarter and for all of 2013, ATA said.

For more, see the March 17 issue of Transport Topics.