Driver retention during the first months of the pandemic was significantly stronger than in recent years, according to new data released by StayMetrics, but drivers are on the move once again.
A report published by StayMetrics on Monday backs up a statement made by U.S. Xpress CEO Eric Fuller on the company’s first-quarter earnings call: “We could probably go back 10-plus years and we probably haven’t had a period of 4 to 6 weeks where we’ve seen our turnover where it is right now.”
The data released by StayMetrics doesn’t go back that far, but it does show that turnover decreased significantly for drivers hired in March and April compared to the prior two years. But by May of this year, turnover already had gone back to more normal levels and had started to exceed that of 2019 and 2018.
The data provided by StayMetrics is defined by the company as showing “the number of drivers hired by carrier clients each month and the percentage remaining at specific milestones after their date of hire: 7 days, 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, etc.”
For example, the StayMetrics data shows that for drivers hired in March 2020, 83.1% were still on the job after 45 days. But a year earlier in March, that figure was 77.6%. And in 2018, the figure was 78.7%, indicating higher retention this year early in the pandemic.
For drivers hired in April 2020 and still on the job after 45 days, that retention number was 81.1%. But in April 2019, the number of drivers in that category was 77.3%. In 2018, it was 79.4%.
But as you go later into the calendar, it shows how much things were getting back to normal into the summer. A look at the first 45 days of somebody hired in March might only take you out to mid-April to mid-May.
For example, the StayMetrics data for 60 days shows that 78.6% of drivers hired in March 2020 were still on the job 60 days later. That figure alone shows less retention than for drivers hired in March. But it was still elevated compared to earlier years; it was 72% in 2019 and 74.4% in 2018.
But looking at the figures for May, it’s clear that normalcy had returned. According to the StayMetrics data, 70.7% of the drivers hired in May 2020 were still on the job 60 days later. A year earlier, it was 72.9% and two years earlier, it was 74.4%, indicating more turnover in 2020 than in the two prior years.
Those sorts of numbers clearly show that any “stay where you are” mentality that took hold of drivers in the first days of the pandemic may have lasted 45 days out — which would have been only into May for drivers hired in March — but by this summer, it was back to normal.