High Truck Driver Turnover = Healthy Industry?

Truck Driver Turnover 2012

Truck Driver Turnover Rates IncreaseThis is an article from the Los Angeles Times where the author makes a positive industry prediction based on negative information. As usual truck drivers, proceed with caution. It’s an opinion piece based on a theory, and not real economic indicators.

It all may come down to the fact that the author believes that higher truck driver turnover within the industry means that you all get better job offers, whereas we hear often from you all that you leave based on dissatisfaction with your employer. Could it be both?

We know the trucking industry is on a slight upswing right now, and that companies are adding drivers at a rate that’s higher than many other industry sectors. So maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Anyway, have a look at this article.

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Truck Driver Turnover Rates are Soaring, and That’s Good News

By Ronald D. White of the Los Angeles Times
The chief economist for the American Trucking Association says that turnover rates for drivers at large, interstate fleets rose 2 percentage points in the first quarter of 2012 to 90 percent. That’s the highest turnover rate since the first quarter of 2008. But don’t worry ” it’s apparently a good sign for the strength of the economy. [pullquote align=”right”]Before the recession, he added, the industry had years when the turnover rate was more than 100 percent, which meant that the average driver spent less than a year at a typical trucking company before moving on to another position.[/pullquote]

The economist, Bob Costello, was referring to the latest numbers in his monthly Trucking Activity Report. Costello’s report also said there was a huge increase of first-quarter turnover among smaller fleets with less than $30 million in annual revenue: a jump of 16 percentage points, to 71 percent turnover. That was the highest figure for those companies since the second quarter of 2008.

But instead of being a sign of truckers struggling to hold onto their jobs, it’s an indication that competition among trucking companies has become so fierce that drivers are continually lured by better offers.

Perversely, it speaks to the health of the trucking industry, said Sean McNally, a spokesman for the American Trucking Association. It’s drivers changing the companies they work for. The turnover rate increases as freight volumes increase. They compete to hire more drivers. The higher the rate the better.

The lowest turnover rate on record was 39 percent and came in the first quarter of 2010 as we really hit the bottom of the global recession, McNally said.

Costello said it was also a sign of trucking companies jostling each other to lure the drivers with the best safety records. The report, Costello said, matches up with what we hear regarding the health of the industry, the tightening of the labor market for drivers and demand for good, quality, experienced drivers.