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driver silhouetted in truck cab Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Turnover rate continues climbing as record driver shortage looms

The driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets rose five percentage points in the third quarter to an annualized rate of 95%, according to Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations.

“Since bottoming out at the end of 2016, the turnover rate at larger fleets has steadily risen—a function of an improving economy, rising demand for freight transportation and fierce competition for drivers,” said Costello. “The tightening of the driver market has raised fears about the driver shortage, which will hit an all-time high this year.”

Also in the third quarter, turnover at small truckload fleets—those with less than $30 million in annual revenue—dipped slightly, falling one percentage point to an annualized rate of 84%, two points higher than the same period in 2016.

The rate also fell at less-than-truckload fleets, dipping two points to 7% for the quarter. That is the lowest the rate has been since the second quarter of 2016.

“Fleets continue to tell us that competition for good, safe and experienced drivers is fierce, pushing wages higher in hopes of attracting the best talent,” said Costello. “However, unless steps are taken to make it easier for individuals to pursue careers in trucking, demand for drivers will continue to outstrip supply—eventually even leading to supply chain disruptions.”

In October 2017, ATA released its latest update on the shortage, pegging it over 50,000 by year-end—with the potential to rise to 174,000 by 2024. In order to find a solution, ATA also launched a workforce development effort, focusing on recruiting and retention strategies for the trucking industry.

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