Over the past two months, the driver pool has see a shift from smaller trucking companies and spot carriers to larger organizations. While there is no singular reason for the shift, analysts are still trying to figure out if this is temporary or part of a larger trend.
The Driver Pool Shift Is Temporary
The rates for spot market truckers have been declining since last summer. The segment of the driver pool that has been dependent on on that market have been looking for something a bit steadier. This has resulted in a number of truckers moving over to larger carriers. This is not the first time the spot market has declined, and shifts like this are not unusual. Analysts are hard-pressed to call this a trend, but rather a temporary fluctuation. The one certainty that is coming out of the falling rates in the spot market is that trucking companies are becoming more competitive, instead of trying to keep up with customer demands. Another cause that may influence the driver pool shift also comes down to age. Many of the career truckers at smaller companies are retiring. But if that were the case, there would be a drop across the board, including larger carriers.
Lower Turnover Rates
Larger carriers recently experienced a drop in turnover rates while smaller trucking companies saw that same metric increase. This could be a further indication that the downward pressure on market rates are influencing the shift in the driver pool. The gap in turnover has not been this narrow in a very long time. However, despite the seeming shift in the driver pool, FMCSA data tells a very different story. Since 2012, the number of independent drivers has risen almost 30 percent. While the number of for-hire drivers dropped last month, the number was still up by over 3,000 since the end of last year. Overall trucking numbers were up by almost five percent from what they were before the recession.
If the migration from smaller companies does become a trend, it will be interesting to see where the driver pool ultimately shifts to, because with infrastructure and energy ramping up production, those could turn into very lucrative markets for independent drivers seeking new revenue.