Reasons Unclear For Lower U.S. Trucker Turnover

ARLINGTON, VA – Truck driver turnover rates at large and small U.S. truckload fleets each fell 12 percentage points in the first quarter of the year, according to figures released Tuesday by the American Trucking Associations.

“Clearly, the decline in driver turnover in the first quarter was significant,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, “but what is less clear is why it dropped so much and whether turnover will continue to remain low.”

In the first quarter, annual turnover at truckload fleets with more than US$30 million in revenue fell to 84%, the lowest it has been since the second quarter of 2011 and marks the first time the rate fell below 90% since 2011. The rate in the final quarter of 2014 was 96%

For fleets with less than US$30 million revenue, the turnover rate dipped to 83%, down from 95% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and the lowest level since the first quarter of last year.

During the quarter, turnover at less-than-truckload fleets fell one percentage point to 9%, its lowest level since the second quarter of 2013.

“Drivers continue to be in high demand, so we still see the risks posed to the economy and our industry by the shortage of drivers,” Costello said. “The drop in turnover was likely, at least partially, connected to a temporary slowdown in freight movements in the quarter, as well as improved retention efforts of fleets across the board. But I would not be surprised if turnover edges higher in the quarters ahead.”

Transport Topics quoted Costello as saying one possible reason for the first quarter decline is that freight movements also slipped in the U.S. during the same time 

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