Big trucking companies are losing long-distance drivers at the highest rate in three years, the American Trucking Associations said this morning.
“The turnover rate for over-the-road truck drivers rose to 79 percent in the second quarter,” up from 75 percent in the first quarter, according to the trade association’s Trucking Activity Report.
“Even though the increase was small, we still believe the market for quality drivers is getting extremely tight, and fleets are aggressively recruiting to fill their openings,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “The slowdown of the economic recovery has affected the turnover rate, but if the economy continues to improve, we’ll see further tightening in the driver market and a renewed risk of a severe driver shortage.”
In contrast, turnover at smaller trucking companies — those with less than $30 million a year of revenue, mostly operating six or fewer trucks — fell in the quarter, according to the ATA. Small truckload firms saw churn drop to 47 percent from last quarter’s 50 percent rate, while less-than-truckload firms saw turnover fall to 6 percent from the first-quarter rate of 8 percent.
New Jersey Motor Truck Association President Gail Toth wasn’t surprised at the news.
“Long-distance drivers have to make a lot of sacrifices,” she said. “They have to be away from home and family for a week or more at a time, so if they get a chance to move to a better opportunity, they’ll do it.”
But churn actually fell at New England Motor Freight, an Elizabeth-based affiliate of the Shevell group of companies.
“From 2009 to 2010, we had about a 79 percent churn rate,” said Lou Natale, the trucking company’s director of human resources. “But we constantly review rates and benefits, and now we’re down to 65 percent.”