CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
May 22, 2019
Forward Thinking

Turnover at large truckload fleets in U.S. hits highest level since 2015

Smaller carriers, LTLs also struggle to retain drivers in tight labor market.

A tight labor market continues to hit the U.S. trucking industry hard, as turnover at large truckload fleets reached its highest level since 2015 in the second quarter. The annualized turnover rate at large truckload carriers—those with more than $30 million in annual revenues—jumped four percentage points during the quarter to 98 percent, according to the American Trucking Association's most recent Trucking Activity Report.

A 98 percent turnover rate means that large carriers are replacing nearly all of their drivers annually.

"So far this year, the turnover rate at large truckload fleets is up ten percentage points," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement announcing the findings. "The extreme tightening of the driver market—driven by solid freight demand—will continue to challenge fleets looking for qualified drivers."

The turnover rate at smaller truckload fleets slipped one percentage point to 72 percent, the ATA said.

"There is something happening with turnover at these smaller fleets," Costello said in the statement. "The driver market remains tight across the truckload sector, but the turnover rate at these smaller carriers is down 14 points from the same time last year. Like large carriers, small truckload carriers have been aggressively raising pay this year, which has helped their turnover rate level off."

Turnover at less-than-truckload fleets also jumped four percentage points to 14 percent—the highest mark since the first quarter of 2013. The LTL market is considered to be a more stable sector of the industry, Costello said, adding that a 14 percent jump signals a struggle there as well "and suggests the industry's issues finding qualified drivers are continuing to deepen across the board."

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