Truck driver turnover at both large and small truckload carriers rose by double-digit percentage points in the third quarter as the industry began bouncing back from a COVID-19 induced slump, according to figures from the American Trucking Associations.
“After a calamitous second quarter, trucking – along with the rest of the economy – began recovering in the third quarter, leading to a tightening of the driver market,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a news release. “With a more robust freight market, we saw an increase in carriers seeking drivers, which led to increased turnover. Additionally, the driver pool has decreased this year for a host of reasons, including fewer new drivers coming into the industry as truck driver training schools train less drivers due to social distancing requirements.”
The annualized turnover rate at truckload carriers with more than $30 million in annual revenue rose 10 percentage points to 92% in the third quarter. The rate at smaller truckload carriers rose 14 points to 74%.
The annualized turnover rate at less-than-truckload carriers rose as well, but by a much smaller amount -- two points to 14%.
Despite the increases, the 2020 average turnover rate is still running behind 2019.
“Ironically, turnover bouncing back is a good sign for the economy and for trucking,” Costello said. “The second-quarter drop was almost entirely the result of COVID, and with scientific light at the end of the tunnel, it is possible we will see continued strong freight demand into 2021, and corresponding increases in demand for truck drivers. And driver pay continues to rise as competition for drivers is intense.”
The turnover rate during Q2 2020 fell to 82% at large truckload carriers, the lowest level since the end of 2018. The rate at smaller truckload carriers fell 10 points to 60%, the lowest level since the final quarter of 2011.
Many trucking companies recently announced driver pay increases, including Covenant, Frozen Food Express, KLLM, Maverick Transportation, Roehl Transport, and TransAm Trucking.