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ATA: Increased Hiring and Rising Turnover Indicate Economic Recovery

Hiring in the trucking industry picked up in the fourth quarter of 2010. Coupled with an increase in the turnover rate for linehaul truckload drivers, this portends increased demand for drivers as the economy recovers.

According to the American Trucking Associations’ quarterly trucking activity report, truckload and less-than-truckload carriers increased payrolls in the last three months of 2010. Small truckload companies increased their employment by 0.8 percent, all within the driver pool, while large truckload companies boosted total employment by 0.3 percent, adding linehaul drivers but trimming back their local driver pools.

The survey showed that after hitting a record low of 39 percent in the first quarter, turnover among linehaul drivers at large truckload fleets rose to 69 percent in the fourth quarter, its highest level since the second quarter of 2008. Third-quarter turnover was 49 percent.

Turnover at small truckload fleets rose to 49 percent in the fourth quarter from 44 percent and LTL turnover remained exceptionally low at 6 percent.

In the truckload sector, fleets increased their dispatch workforce by 3.1 percent, but overall administrative staff fell by 2.1 percent. Less-than-truckload employment rose 0.4 percent, rising in all categories except for linehaul drivers, which fell 0.2 percent.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the increased hiring, coupled with rising turnover, indicated that fleets are responding to signs of the growing economic recovery.

“Fleets are clearly hiring more drivers as demand for freight hauling increases,” Costello said. “In addition, while part of the turnover can be attributed to regulatory changes, we believe the bulk of this churn is due to increased demand for drivers.”

“As the recovery strengthens, we’re likely to see demand for drivers and trucking services continue to increase, with that demand manifesting itself in rising turnover rates and ultimately, once again, a shortage of truck drivers,” Costello said.

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