Truck driver turnover held steady in fourth quarter, ATA says

Despite the pressures of tight freight capacity and a lingering pandemic, truck driver turnover did not rise in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA’s) Quarterly Employment Report. The turnover rate for truckload fleets with more than £30 million in annual revenue was unchanged at a 92% annualized rate, while the churn rate for smaller truckload carriers dipped two percentage points to 72%, the ATA found. Likewise, the turnover rate at less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, typically much lower than the rate at truckload fleets, dipped two percentage points in the fourth quarter to 12% on an annualized basis – one percentage point off the 13% turnover LTLs averaged in 2020, the group said.

However, motor carriers need to remain focused on driver retention as the U.S. economy continues to recover from the pandemic recession, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello warned in a release. “With the continued tightness in the driver market, it may seem surprising that the turnover rate didn’t jump in the fourth quarter as economic activity and freight traffic increased. However, paradoxically, strong freight demand may have actually contributed to turnover staying steady by keeping drivers – particularly those engaged in the dry van and temperature-controlled sectors – too busy to change jobs,” Costello said.

“While the driver shortage temporarily eased slightly in 2020 during the depths of the pandemic, continued tightness in the driver market remains an operational challenge for motor carriers and they should expect it to continue through 2021 and beyond,” he said.