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April 25, 2016 4:30 PM, EDT

Smaller Fleet Turnover Rises Sharply in Fourth Quarter, Worsens Further at Larger Carriers

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Truck driver turnover at smaller fleets leaped 21 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2015, while churn at larger fleets reached even more elevated levels in spite of lackluster freight demand, American Trucking Associations reported.

The annualized rate for smaller fleets, those with $30 million or less in annual revenue, jumped to 89% from 68%, while the rate for larger truckload fleets with revenue above $30 million, rose two percentage points to 102%. It was the first time since 2012 that larger fleets’ churn remained over 100% for two consecutive quarters.

“This elevated turnover rate shows that the driver market remains a challenge for truckload fleets,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Obviously, attracting and retaining drivers remains a top concern for the industry.”

“The rising turnover rate, coupled with anecdotal reports from carriers, shows what a premium there is on experienced, safe drivers,” Costello said. “And those drivers have and will continue to benefit from rising wages and benefits.”

The pace of turnover at smaller fleets represented a decline of six percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2014.

For the full year, turnover averaged 79% at smaller fleets, and nearly 95% at larger fleets.

Among less-than-truckload operators, turnover was 11% for the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2015, rising one percentage point on a sequential basis from the third quarter.