Driver Turnover Increases, Recruiting Expected to Remain Tough

October 17, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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Photo: Con-way
Photo: Con-way

Driver turnover in the truckload sector continues to get worse, according to recently released figures, while a study of hard-to-fill occupations emphasizes the growing driver shortage.

Truckload driver turnover at fleets doing more than $30 million in business annually rose 11 percentage points in the second quarter of the year from the first quarter to an annual rate of 103%, according to recently released figures from the American Trucking Associations. This is its highest level since the third quarter of 2012 and four percentage points above a year earlier.

Turnover at small truckload fleets, those with less than $30 million revenue, surged 16 points from the previous quarter to 94%, the highest level since the third quarter of 2012 and 12 percentage points more than during the same time in 2013.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the shortage is “as bad as ever and is expected to get worse in the near term,” as freight volumes continue to grow.

“These turnover rates show that the shortage is acute,” he said, “and if the freight economy continues to grow, it will worsen very quickly.”

In sharp contrast, as usual, driver turnover at less-than-truckload fleets was much lower, coming in at just 11% annually, one percentage point than in the first quarter. Anectodal reports, however, indicate even LTLs are struggling more than usual to find drivers, and Con-way recently announced changes to its tuition program to address the problem.

The figures come as many fleets say they have been having a hard time finding qualified drivers and if a new report is indeed true, it is likely going to stay that say.

The American Staffing Association’s new Skills Gap Index, which tracks the hardest to fill occupations in the U.S., ranks truck drivers as the third most difficult, behind occupational therapists and physical therapists.

“The ASA Skills Gap Index quantifies the severity of the skills shortage in America,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “These new U.S. skills gap data will be used by economists, journalists, government officials, and, most important, staffing firms as they work with clients to develop workforce solutions and devise effective talent acquisition strategies.”

The skills gap index was developed by ASA, with its corporate partner, measuring the level of difficulty to recruit for a specific occupation based on demand, supply of active candidates, and total population working in it.


Capacity Crunch Changes Relationships Between Shippers, Carriers

Driver Shortage Moves Beyond Truckload; Worst Yet to Come


  1. 1. Cliff Downing [ October 20, 2014 @ 04:25AM ]

    Just waiting for the hue and cry that we need to import more labor to cover these driving jobs since Americans don't want any part of it. All in a short minded effort to fill seats while still keeping the wage down instead of having wages, like water, find their own level. All the while using technical sounding terms like "talent acquisition strategies". Folks use terms like that to justify higher salary and compensation levels for themselves while working toward filling positions at the cheapest level they can. Drivers need to do likewise. They are not drivers but, "Cargo Relocation Specialists", so that "target acquisition strategies" will take on a more accurate meaning.

  2. 2. Bill Hood [ October 20, 2014 @ 04:47AM ]

    I would like to thank all these companies that don't even recognize that honesty, integrity and respect are what is missing from their companies and they will continue to burn through drivers like Kleenex during allergy season. We have a waiting list of qualified O/O's and less than 10% turnover.

    You make finding good drivers easy and affordable.

    Thank you and keep up the awful work,

    Bill Hood

  3. 3. Jeff [ October 20, 2014 @ 06:34AM ]

    This is the result of ignorance, and turning this vocation into a minimum wage industry. We shot our selves in the foot and now we have to pay for it. Nice job for all those involved. No respect, trust left in this industry between the carrier and driver. We have allowed so much rif raf into this vocation that has belittled the good drivers still out there. Even the sons and daughters of truck drivers do not want any part of this industry inside or out because of how we have turned our industry into such a meager career choice, I myself would not and could not consciously offer this path to anyone in my family. Petty sad. 94-103% turnover is unacceptable and if you think this is our new standard, well you will have more and more issues with driver recruitment and retention than ever. Your customers will find a way, even if they have to hire Mexican or Canadian drivers to do it.

  4. 4. Richard [ October 20, 2014 @ 09:30AM ]

    Cliff, Bill and Jeff - I agree!!!! You guys hit the "nail on the head"... You all are 100% correct.

    The trucking industry is like a lot of other American Industries... Too many educated idiots that think the world of working class people are a bunch of idiots that they can exploit.....

  5. 5. Phil [ October 20, 2014 @ 11:08AM ]

    As driver regulation increases, fewer and fewer quality individuals will be attracted to the job and more and more quality individuals will leave. I don't know that, as Jeff said, riff-raff was ALLOWED in as much as it was primarily, or only, riff-raff applying for the positions.

  6. 6. Brenda Ingram [ October 23, 2014 @ 04:04PM ]

    As CSA continues to penalize the drivers, who are trying to keep food on the table. The real culprit dispatch and management continue their work ethics for the customer who as we all know want their loads yesterday. In continuing to do Business this way it leave little room for any driver to improve his situation. Due to the strong arm of DOT and logistics tactics in our Industry

  7. 7. Chris [ October 24, 2014 @ 08:22AM ]

    Retention and recruiting during a driver shortage are related, but they each have different solutions. Retaining drivers is a matter of respect, lifestyle, pay, regulatory issues, etc. These issues will always need to be addressed by companies for current drivers. But the recruiting issue is a different problem. We run 25 truck driving schools nationwide (SAGE Truck Driving Schools), and there is no shortage of good people who want to go into trucking. Not all of them should go into trucking, but many could be good employees who help the industry meet business demands while getting higher pay and benefits than they currently have -- were it not for a big issue: how to afford the training necessary to get the driving skills to obtain a CDL and drive safely. We are working with more and more companies who recognize the basic reality that the pipeline of drivers needs to increase, and the most efficient way to do that is HELP people pay for training. The bottom line is companies that run trucks need drivers, and the pool is shrinking; the problem will get worse. There really is no choice but for the industry to invest in the workforce by funding CDL training for qualified applicants. It is quite simply enlightened self-interest to recognize that action is required NOW to address the driver shortage problem. Major companies we work with that recognize this reality are taking action; those that don't will have a hard time staying in business.

  8. 8. gonzotrucker [ October 28, 2014 @ 01:15AM ]

    Drivers are sick and tired of working for free. It's time for a big change in the way we are paid. Mileage pay is wage theft!


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