It is anticipated that the freight transportation sector may recover in the first quarter of 2024
In 2020, the pandemic brought about an increase in the demand for freight transportation, consequently creating a greater need for truck drivers capable of handling the challenging required work. The demand for professional truck drivers has continued to show signs of activity this year despite the overall slowdown in the freight transportation market.
This year, the freight transportation industry experienced a recession as a result of the country’s economic situation. This slowdown had a negative impact on various sectors linked to freight transportation, affecting both employees and employers, particularly influencing hiring and retention rates.
According to the results of the Fall 2023 Driver Survey, released by PDA and the Conversion Interactive Agency, the primary concerns of drivers revolve around the payment of their monthly bills and the desire to spend more time at home with family. Over a third of the participants emphasized the importance of transportation companies increasing compensation to attract and retain drivers, as well as implementing a minimum wage, mileage, or load guarantees.
Scott Dismuke, Vice President of Operations at the employee analysis and retention company People. Data. Analytics, notes that drivers’ ability to meet salary expectations is impacted when they cannot drive and cover as many miles. He highlights that, despite wage increases, the decrease in the number of miles traveled this year has been a significant challenge for carriers, as it directly affects the total salary amount.
Driver recruitment peaked during the 2021 season; however, by 2022, this demand had decreased and continued to decline in 2023. Dismuke emphasizes the importance of ongoing investment in driver retention, as the freight transportation market could undergo changes in the near future. Additionally, he underscores that hiring new drivers is more expensive compared to retaining existing ones.
XPO, a prominent company in the United States freight transportation sector, recognizes the critical importance of employee retention. The company has reassessed how it uses recruitment and retention incentives in response to the growth in on-demand order requests. Currently, these benefits are primarily focused on roles considered critical and difficult to fill, marking a significant shift compared to their application during and after the pandemic.
The most recent Driver Survey indicates that this year has seen the lowest level of drivers actively seeking employment. This decline does not necessarily reflect greater job satisfaction. According to the survey, among those not actively seeking a new job:
- 13.9% mentioned fear of making a change in their current economic situation
- 15.6% stated the need for more experience
- 62.8% of those seeking employment expressed a desire for a more predictable salary
Other factors contribute to the costs associated with a driver leaving a company, such as decreased production and efficiency. Issues related to equipment wear, the possibility of increased insurance premiums, and the impact on customer relationships have also been observed. The combination of these factors can result in a loss of revenue opportunities for the company.
Currently, companies are focusing their efforts on driver retention and recruitment; however, these actions are inherently tied to the economic situation in the United States, implying that fluctuations will remain constant. It is anticipated that the freight transportation sector may recover in the first quarter of 2024, opening the door to new hires with competitive salaries.
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