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Monthly Driver Recruiting Trends – June 2021

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 were visited by over 4 million users. Over 3.1 million unique users visited using a mobile device, over 700k visited using a computer, and over 105k visited using a tablet.
For Driver Recruiting campaigns managed by Randall-Reilly:

  • Drivers submitted 889k unique leads  through Randall-Reilly advertising campaigns.
  • More than 250k unique driver contacts submitted 458k unique forms to various fleets.
  • 310k unique driver callers made 431k unique call leads to fleets.

Summary

The freight market remains very favorable for trucking companies: freight volume remains elevated and truckload rates are forecast to be up 16% in 2021 vs. 2020. However, it is still difficult to maximize these favorable conditions by hiring the drivers needed to haul more freight due to the vast number of employers seeking drivers and a lack of drivers in the market.
Although lead costs (CPL) remain elevated, they have eased from their highs in April.

  • Average overall CPL in June is on pace to decline by 4% month-over-month (MoM).
    • Company driver, owner-operator, and teams are all on pace to drop ~10%.
    • Student campaigns are on pace to drop 25%.

Average overall CPL in May [1] is on pace to decline by 7% month-over month (MoM).

  • All major driver types except for owner-operator are on pace to decline.
  • Student campaigns are seeing the largest MoM percentage decrease in May, indicating that potential drivers are interested in beginning driving as driving schools increase capacity.

High lead costs continue to drive historically high hire costs (CPH).

  • The average cost of hiring a company driver is more than twice as high as it was in either May 2019 or May 2020.
  • Hire costs for owner-operators in May remained elevated but dropped 18% from April.
    • Average CPH remains 46% higher than two years ago (to compare to a pre-pandemic year).

With lead costs easing, hire costs in June and July could start seeing some relief. Increased traffic on driver recruiting landing pages show that drivers are looking for opportunities, but they are holding out for the pay, benefits, and home time they want.
[1] June stats are taken from campaign performance between June 1 and 15.


Click Cost Averages


Click costs (CPC) remain elevated, but through the first half of May, both Search and Facebook CPC are on pace to decline MoM. Search click costs for May and June are closer to 2019 levels than what has been seen in some time, while Facebook is on pace for its first decrease in CPC since January.


While Display CPC continues to increase, some context is needed to better understand the data. Randall-Reilly’s digital marketing team has been adding in a different type of Display product that has a higher CPC but has a better click-through rate (CTR) and on average produces a lower CPL. These higher CPC/lower CPL campaigns are making up a much higher percentage of spend in Display than they did in 2019 and 2020.


CTR for all three channels is up in June, suggesting that drivers are looking for jobs with higher intent than they have been in past months.[2]
Search CPC


Facebook CPC


Display CPC


 


Cost Per Lead Averages

Average lead costs (CPL) are easing from their highs in April, but it remains difficult to get driver leads in the current market. Overall lead costs dropped 3% MoM in May and are on pace to decline another 4% in June.
All four major driver types are on pace to have a lower CPL in June than in May. Student campaigns are seeing the largest percentage drop (-25%), while campaigns targeting company drivers, owner-operators, or team drivers are all on pace to drop ~10%.
While there could be multiple factors in the easing of CPL, it is worth noting that lead costs spiked after the extension of $300-a-week unemployment supplement in March and now they are easing as twenty states are ending their acceptance of the $300-a-week payment in June. It is important to remember that correlation is not causation, but it is a factor to consider as several more states will end their supplemental payments in July, and the program is set to end in early September for the rest of the nation.
Overall Recruiting CPL Averages


Company Driver CPL Averages


Owner-Operator CPL Averages


Team CPL Averages


Student CPL Averages


Hire Costs & Rates

High lead costs continue to drive historically high hire costs (CPH).
The average cost of hiring a company driver is more than twice as high as it was in 2019 or 2020. High lead costs are driving this increase: the hire rate remains better than in both 2019 and 2020. It is worth noting that hire rates have been lower over the past few months, suggesting that drivers looking for a new job have lots of employment options and can be very selective.
Hire costs for owner-operators in May remained elevated but dropped 18% from April. The drop was caused by a large improvement in the hire rate. A year ago, hire costs for owner-operators were the lowest on record due to early months of the pandemic, so comparisons with 2019 are a better gauge for comparisons with a typical year. In May 2021, average CPH was 46% higher than in May 2019.
Hire data by driver type is only available from March 2019 and onwards.
 
Company Driver Average CPH


Company Driver Hire Ratio


Owner-Operator Average CPH


Owner Operator Hire Rates


Other Digital Trends

Multicarrier lead applications are on pace to increase by nearly 50% MoM in June. This, especially when noting that the conversion rate and average session duration are both increasing in June, further suggests that drivers are more interested in finding a new driving job than they have been in the past few months. All three metrics are on pace to be at their highest point since at least March.
The count of total users on recruiting landing pages built by Randall-Reilly continues to grow, but most of this increase is due to increased advertising spend.
 
Other Digital Trends


External Market Trends

The number of truck driving jobs posted on job boards rebounded in May while the number of total employers looking for drivers remains very elevated, indicating jobs need to have very competitive benefits to be attractive to drivers. Both the number of jobs posted and the number of job seekers rose by 10%, so there was little change in the number of seekers per job.
Compared to May 2019, there are 172,000 more job postings (+86%), but 236,000 fewer drivers are searching for these jobs (-16%).
Truck Driver Job Seekers per Job


Truck Driver Jobs Posted & Seekers


Market Information[2]

Little has changed in the outlook for trucking companies in the past month: freight volumes and rates are expected to be very high through at least the end of the year; but hiring drivers remains very difficult, and truck demand is greatly outpacing supply due delays in new truck production.
FTR forecasts truckload (TL) rates to be up ~16% YoY in 2021, and rates in 2022 to only decline 2.7% from 2021’s record highs. LTL rates are forecast to be up ~12% YoY with a slight decline in 2022 from 2021’s rates.
In raw numbers, the truck transportation industry added 10,800 jobs in May. But since truck transportation employment usually surges in the spring, the seasonal adjustment algorithm expected 12,700 jobs to be added, resulting in a seasonally adjusted employment decrease of 1,900 jobs. This indicates that fewer jobs were added this May than in previous years. However, prior years’ seasonal trends may not hold after a massive shock like Covid-19, so seasonal trends may have changed.
Market Information
Overall, truck transportation is still down ~35,000 jobs from pre-pandemic levels. General long-distance TL freight carriers have been the most impacted in total numbers: they are down over 22,000 employees from two years ago (to compare to a pre-Covid time) despite freight demand being very likely above 2019 levels. General local freight carriers are the only trucking subsector that has increased employment in that timeframe, likely due to both a shift in demand to delivery of bulky items and drivers wanting to drive local routes.
New truck orders are continuing to be delayed due to shortages of semiconductors and other components. As a result, for trucks ordered in April, the estimated average time from order to delivery was just under 12 months. Conditions are expected to improve in Q4.
Shortages of both drivers and new trucks are pushing active truck utilization levels to 100% for Q2, and levels are expected to be at or above 99% in Q3 and 97% in Q4.


[2] Market information taken from:

FTR. “Trucking Update: June 2021.” 28 May 2021, FTR.

Kingston, John. “Did trucking jobs rise in May? It depends.” 4 Jun 2021, freightwaves.com.

Miller, Jason. LinkedIn postings (multiple). May 2021, Michigan State University.

U.S. Department of Transportation. “Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse: April 2021 Monthly Summary Report.” 20 May 2021, FMCSA.

 

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Monthly Driver Recruiting Trend Report - June 2021