ATA Chief Economist, Bob Costello. Image via ATA

ATA Chief Economist, Bob Costello. Image via ATA

Turnover at truckload fleets remained high in the fourth quarter of 2014, according the American Trucking Association’s chief economist, Bob Costello. Costello considers turnover at truckload fleets to be a barometer of the driver shortage.

Turnover at large truckload fleets actually fell a percentage point to an annualized rate of 96% for the quarter. Small truckload carriers making less than 30 million in revenue saw a 1% increase, for a rate of 95% turnover.

For the year, large truckload turnover was down 1%  from 2013  to 95%. But turnover was up more than 11% at small carriers, bringing the rate to 95%. A five-point gap between the two rates is the smallest since 2000.

The narrow gap between turnover levels at small and large carriers is an uncommon occurrence and likely the result of larger fleets increasing pay, offering bonuses and attracting more drivers from smaller fleets, according to Costello.

 “These figures show us that the driver shortage– which we now estimate to be between 35,000 to 40,000 drivers– is getting more pervasive in the truckload sector,” Costello said.

“Due to growing freight volumes, regulatory pressures and normal attrition, we expect the problem to get worse in the near term as the industry works to find solutions to the shortage," he added.