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April 2022 – Driver Recruiting Trends

April 2022 Driver Recruiting Trends. The following metrics are sourced from truck driver recruiting campaigns managed by Randall Reilly. Recent trends are detailed below in an effort to review driver employment activity.

The following metrics are sourced from truck driver recruiting campaigns managed by Randall Reilly. Recent trends are detailed below in an effort to review driver employment activity.

In the past 12 months, the network of unique driver recruiting landing pages maintained by Randall Reilly has been visited by 6.5 million users. Over 5.5 million users visited using a mobile device, over 850k visited using a computer, and over 130k visited using a tablet.

For Driver Recruiting campaigns managed by Randall Reilly, in the past 12 months

  • Drivers submitted more than 1 million unique leads to 893 different clients through Randall-Reilly advertising campaigns. 
  • 328k unique driver contacts submitted 573k unique short forms to various fleets.
  • 360k unique driver callers made 498k unique call leads to fleets

Summary

Record high diesel prices and softening van rates on the spot market caused FTR’s trucking conditions to be negative in March for the first time since May 2020. If fuel costs remain at their current level, conditions will likely continue to be negative or neutral for carriers over the next few months.

April’s[1] overall cost per lead (CPL) average is flat from March but will likely rise to about three or four percent above March’s CPL by the end of the month since lead costs tend to rise in the last weeks of the month.

Preliminary hire data for March shows that Company Driver hire averages have remained fairly steady, but Owner-Operator hire costs and rates are fluctuating wildly.

  • The overall Company Driver hire cost (CPH) dropped by 4% from February.
  • The overall Owner-Operator CPH dropped 44% and is at its lowest point since September 2020 due to the best lead-to-hire ratio on record.
    • February’s hire cost was the highest on record.

The surge in fuel costs and weakening spot rates impact owner-operators the most. March’s hire data indicates that many owner-operators are looking to lease on with a fleet to give themselves access to contracted rates and consistent loads.

For a more in-depth look at how recent market changes are affecting owner-operators and how they might respond, see the ‘Market Information’ section at the end of this report.


[1]  April’s lead and hire stats are taken from campaign performance from April 1 to 18; all other April stats are taken from campaign performance from April 1 to 15.

Click Cost Averages

April click costs (CPC) for Search and Facebook are on pace to inch downwards from March’s costs. The fairly steady average CPC across the past three months for these two channels suggests that competition in these channels has stabilized. Display’s CPC is on pace to rise in April. The increase in April is a combination of higher CPC averages on major Display placements and a greater percentage of the Display budget being allocated to the placement that gets a lower cost per lead but has a higher CPC.

Search CPC
Search CPC
Facebook CPC
Facebook CPC
Display CPC
Display CPC

Cost Per Lead Average

March’s overall average cost per lead (CPL) decreased 6% from February. Through the first 18 days of April, overall average lead cost is flat, but past performance indicates that April’s final overall average CPL will end up being about three or four percent higher than March’s overall CPL.

Company Driver campaigns are on pace to see lead costs increase slightly in April; Owner-Operator, Team, and Student average CPL are all on pace to decrease.

Overall Recruiting CPL Averages Chart
Overall Recruiting CPL Averages
Company Driver CPL Averages Chart
Company Driver CPL Averages
Owner-Operator CPL Averages Chart
Owner-Operator CPL Averages
Team CPL Averages Chart
Team CPL Averages
Student CPL Averages Chart
Student CPL Averages

Hire Costs & Rates

Preliminary data shows that average Company Driver hire costs (CPH) fell by 4% in March from February. The average lead-to-hire ratio (LTH) has remained stable for the past few months.

While Company Driver hire averages have remained fairly steady, Owner-Operator hire costs and rates are fluctuating wildly. February had the highest average Owner-Operator CPH on record and the highest LTH since April 2020. Preliminary March data shows the average Owner-Operator CPH to be at its lowest point since September 2020 and LTH to be the lowest on record.

The surge in fuel costs and weakening spot rates impact owner-operators the most. The data indicates that many owner-operators are looking to lease on with a fleet to give themselves access to contracted rates and consistent loads.

For a more in-depth look at how recent market changes are affecting owner-operators and how they might respond, see the ‘Market Information’ section at the end of this report.

Company Driver Average CPH Chart
Company Driver Average CPH
Company Driver Hire Ratio^ Chart
Company Driver Hire Ratio
Owner-Operator Average CPH Chart
Owner-Operator Average CPH
Owner-Operator Hire Ratio Chart
Owner-Operator Hire Ratio

Other Digital Trends

Through the first half of April, there are fewer users visiting Randall Reilly recruiting landing pages, but they are converting more frequently and spending more time on the landing pages than they were in March. This suggests that drivers have slightly higher intent in their job searches than last month.

mca applicants, landing page users, conversion rate, and average session duration graphs
Other Digital Trends: MCA Applicants, Landing Page Users, Conversion Rate, & Average Session Duration

External Market Trends

The number of job seekers for trucking jobs continues to increase and has been at a record level for three consecutive months. But there is now more competition for these job seekers: there were 35,000 more truck driver job postings in March than in February. March had the highest number of truck driver postings since last February. Comparing March 2022 to March 2019 (for a pre-pandemic comparison), this past month, there were 27% more people searching for driving jobs (+419,000), while there were 142% more jobs available (+264,500) for these searchers.

Truck Driver Job Seekers per Job
Truck Driver Job Seekers per Job
Truck Driver Jobs Posted / Truck Driver Job Seekers Chart

External Marketing Trends: Truck Driver Jobs Posted & Truck Driver Job Seekers

Market Information[1]

Record high diesel prices and softening van rates on the spot market caused FTR’s trucking conditions to be negative in March for the first time since May 2020. If fuel costs remain at their current level, conditions will likely continue to be negative or neutral for carriers over the next few months.

There are varying opinions about what will happen to the trucking market in the coming months. Some industry insiders are sounding the alarm of a coming “bloodbath” for trucking companies, while others note that the market is changing but the trends show normalization of freight volume and rates rather than a freight recession.

FTR expects freight volumes to grow 4.1% in 2022 from last year, but the makeup of these loads is changing. Flatbed and specialized loads are up due to very strong demand for construction and manufactured products, while refrigerated loads are down. Fewer loads are making it to the spot market since contract rates have overtaken spot rates. As load volumes fall on the spot market, spot rates drop, favoring those who are locked in on contract rates.

FTR still expects freight rates to be 4.5% higher in 2022 than in 2021, due to strong contract rates and spot rates bouncing back in the second quarter as produce season ramps up.

The shift in loads will benefit LTL and flatbed carriers, especially those who haul building supplies and manufactured goods, while owner-operators face the biggest risk. Owner-operators haul via the spot market and buy fuel at the pump price; as a result, they were the first to feel squeezed as fuel surged and spot rates fell.

Craig Fuller of FrieghtWaves argues that even if volumes and rates normalize, conditions for fleets and owner-operators will be difficult. There are 10% more trucks and drivers available to haul a load than there was when the pandemic began, meaning capacity has increased. Additionally, operating expenses have increased significantly since before COVID. Higher insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs alone have increased operating expenses by as much as $0.38 per mile. Truck costs and driver wages have also increased, further adding to operating expenses. The trucking market experienced the highest number of new fleet startups in 2021—most of them owner-operators with a single truck. But the cost of a used truck is nearly double what a similar truck cost in 2019. So many drivers bought trucks at very high costs, and now the spot market is softening, leaving these new owner-operators with several options. They can sell their trucks and leave the industry—many large fleets are still unable to get new trucks and would gladly snap up any available used trucks. They can do what they’ve done in the past when loads become less profitable: take on additional loads on the spot market to increase revenue. Or they can become leased owner-operators and partner with a fleet that gives them access to contracted rates and consistent loads. While all three of these are likely happening, Randall Reilly’s lead-to-hire ratio for owner-operator campaigns in March indicates many drivers are turning to this third option.


[1] Market information taken from:

Fuller, Craig. “Trucking industry will be in trouble if demand drops to pre=COVID levels.” 6 Apr 2022, FreightWaves.

FTR. “Trucking Update: April 2022.” 31 Mar 2022, FTR.

Lockie, Alex. “Is a ‘trucking bloodbath’ on the way for owner-ops as rates soften against record high diesel?” 9 Apr 2022, CCJ.

Miller, Jason. Multiple LinkedIn postings. Apr 2022, LinkedIn.

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Monthly Driver Recruiting Trend Report - April 2022
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