ATA driver turnover data sends mixed messages

For small fleets, the ATA said the turnover rate was up 5% to 775, which was down 3% annually, with the full-year 2018 turnover rate at 73%, representing the lowest rate for small carrier driver churn going back to 2011.

By ·

Fourth quarter driver turnover rates were mixed according to data issued this week by the

The fourth quarter turnover rate for large fleets-with more than $30 million in revenue-dropped 9% to 78%, and was down 10% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. For all of 2018, the large fleet driver turnover rate was 89%, marking a 2% annual gain over 2017.

For small fleets, the ATA said the turnover rate was up 5% to 775, which was down 3% annually, with the full-year 2018 turnover rate at 73%, representing the lowest rate for small carrier driver churn going back to 2011. Less-than-truckload (LTL) driver turnover was flat at 10% in the fourth quarter and averaged 11% in 2018, ATA said.

“The driver market continues to be tight, but not quite as much as the middle of 2018. The overall trend late last year was that turnover is slowing,” said ATA Chief Economist in a statement. “There can be various reasons for this – either freight volumes are decelerating and as such fleets pulled back on recruiting efforts or fleets’ efforts to increase pay are paying dividends in the form or reduced turnover. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but it is a trend that bears watching.”

At the recent , Costello said that a key factor for driver turnover has been compensation, which has lagged for a long time.

“If you look at what driver pay was in 1980 compared to now in real currency terms, it was higher then…so we still have a lot of catching up to do,” he said.

But there are signs of improvement with large turnover rates falling 20% over the second half of 2018, as per ATA data, with Costello pointing to pay increases as the reason for that reduction. But that situation could change, even if the next recession is mild, he said, as it could lead to a fair amount of carriers exiting the business, as it will be difficult for them to keep those pay increases intact.

A recent conference call hosted by Stifel, featuring Gordon Klemp and Leah Shaver from , presented a potentially positive outlook for the driver shortage showing signs of improvement, with the pair saying they expect driver wages to be higher in 2019, in the 6%-to-10% range annually, with the caveat, though, that driver wages will not rise unless they are commensurate with rate growth.

Stifel analyst Dave Ross explained in a research note highlighting this call that his firm believes that the driver shortage is a simple commodity shortage driving truckload rates higher.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.


Article Topics

ATA · Driver Turnover · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Is It Time For a New Network Strategy?
A successful supply chain network design gives companies a competitive advantage, pinpoints ways to significantly reduce costs, improves service levels, reduces overall cycle times, streamlines all processes and systems used, and more.
Download Today!
From the May 2019 Logistics Management Magazine
May is our Technology Issue, and we’ve devoted the majority of our pages this month to the evolution of the technology toolbox that’s now within our grasp.
The Digital Supply Chain Takes Shape
Top 30 U.S. Ports 2019: Trade tensions determine where cargo goes next
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Technology Roundtable: Are you ready for what’s next?
In this webcast LM's group editorial director Michael Levans gathers four top supply chain management technology analysts to discuss how some of the hottest software and technologies is helping logistics and supply chain management professionals streamline their operations to meet the pressing demands of digital commerce and manage through the tightest labor market in a generation.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
35th Annual Salary Survey: Compensation matters more than ever
While job satisfaction remains the primary reason for today’s logistics managers to stay with one...
2019 Rate Outlook: Pressure Builds
In 2019, the world economy will enter a third straight year of broad-based growth, but many...

2019 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Market Update: Keeping pace with the times
The transportation management systems market is growing right along with the number of challenges...
The Logistics News that Shaped 2018
Every year at this time, group news editor Jeff Berman combs through the mountain of news that was...