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Mixer driver survey finds lower vacancy rates, fewer capacity constraints

Source: National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Silver Spring, Md.

NRMCA 2017 Mixer Driver Recruitment and Retention Survey results are markedly brighter than those of the previous two years. Some 36 percent of respondents turned down business due to lack of drivers in 2016, versus 51 percent the prior year, while the driver vacancy rate dropped about two points for a third consecutive year, to 4.6 percent as of December 2016. Just over 90 percent of 2017 survey respondents cite plans to hire additional mixer drivers this year, up from 72 percent last year.

The survey examines the state of mixer driver employment pool between January 1 and December 31; 2017 respondents represent 30 percent of NRMCA’s estimated 2016 total of 75,000 drivers. The group also estimates the ready mixed concrete industry payroll at approximately 135,000, mixer drivers representing 56 percent of the total.

The mixer driver pool was estimated to be approximately 75,000 in both 2015 and 2016, up 5,000 drivers from 2014. The turnover rate dropped to 28 percent last year from 32 percent in 2015. For 2015 and 2016, respectively, the turnover rate equates to about 23,075 and 18,600 drivers (quit and released). Of the drivers who were hired and then left in the same year, 4,800 did so in 2016, a decrease of more than 50 percent from the previous year. Of note, 85 percent of producers provided a mentor program to new hires in 2016, whereas 49 percent did in 2015.

In the survey’s three-year history, respondents overwhelmingly noted their biggest hiring challenge was finding drivers with ready mixed concrete experience. Seventy-six percent of producers will only hire experienced drivers, typically rejecting new, commercially-licensed drivers or those under 25. Nevertheless, the industry managed to hire between 20,000-22,000 drivers each year between 2014 and 2016.

Mixer drivers’ average age in the survey was 47, the same as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 estimated age of heavy equipment commercial drivers. While a mixer driver’s average time on the job dropped to 9.6 years in the 2017 survey from 10 years in 2015-2016, the BLS reports only 29 percent of American workers have more than a 10-year tenure with their respective companies.

The annual survey reports on staffing levels, retention rates, average age, tenure rate and internal job mobility. It also looks at total turnover, voluntary turnover, involuntary turnover and layoff turnover rates, plus reasons for termination as well as reasons mixer drivers have quit. Conducted under the auspices of the NRMCA Operations, Environmental and Safety Committee Human Resources Task Group, the survey also includes recruitment methods, hiring trends and challenges, and projected next-year hiring levels.