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 6.6 million users. Over 5.6 million users visited using a mobile device, over 870k visited using a computer, and over 130k visited using a tablet.
While record-high diesel fuel prices and the drop in van segments’ spot rates continue to dampen the freight outlook, FTR projects overall trucking conditions to be favorable for carriers through the end of the year. However, it now forecasts that conditions will be much closer to neutral between carriers and shippers than it had been predicting before March.
Through the first half of May, the overall cost per lead (CPL) average is down 18% from April due to high conversion rates from an increased count of visitors to recruiting landing pages. While average lead costs tend to rise in the last weeks of the month, May’s overall CPL is likely to end up being lower than any month since at least February 2021.
Preliminary hire data for April shows that average Company Driver hire costs (CPH) rose by 10% in April from March due to a rise in the lead-to-hire ratio.
Owner-Operator hire costs and rates continue to fluctuate wildly from month to month. The recent surge in fuel costs and weakening spot rates had a large effect on March’s CPH and LTH, but preliminary data suggests that effect didn’t last into April. Instead, CPH was more closely in line with November, December, and February’s costs. It will be interesting to see if continued high fuel prices and lower spot rates will cause more owner-operators to partner with fleets in the next few months to decrease risk.
 May’s stats are taken from campaign performance from May 1 to 16.
Click costs (CPC) rose quite a bit for Search and Facebook in the second half of April. Through the first half of May, Search costs have eased and are on pace to be lower than April’s CPC, while Facebook’s May CPC is remaining high. Facebook’s CPC over the past few months has closely mirrored 2021’s costs, indicating a potential “new normal” for seasonal Facebook costs.
Display’s CPC is on pace to inch upwards in May. The increases in Display CPC over the past year are a combination of higher CPC averages on major Display placements and a greater percentage of the Display budget being allocated to a placement that gets a lower cost per lead but has a higher CPC.
April’s overall average cost per lead (CPL) increased 2% from March. Through the first half of May, the overall average lead cost is on pace to drop by 18%. While lead costs usually increase in the second half of the month, May’s overall CPL is likely to end up being lower than any month since at least February 2021. All tracked driver types are all on pace to decrease by between 16% and 23%, meaning the decrease in lead costs is being felt fairly evenly across different driver types.
Preliminary data shows that average Company Driver hire costs (CPH) rose by 10% in April from March. The average lead-to-hire ratio (LTH) rose by 11%, accounting for the CPH rise. Owner-Operator hire costs and rates continue to yo-yo: since December, CPH has fluctuated wildly month to month. The recent surge in fuel costs and weakening spot rates had a large effect on March’s CPH and LTH, but preliminary data suggests that effect didn’t last into April. It will be interesting to see if months of high fuel prices and lower spot rates will cause more owner-operators to partner with fleets to curtail risk.
Landing page trends in May show why lead costs are down. More users are visiting Randall Reilly recruiting landing pages, and they are converting at a high rate. The conversion rate on these pages is on pace to be the second highest for a month since August 2020, trailing only April’s conversion rate.
The number of job seekers for trucking jobs fell to its lowest level of the year in April but remains well above previous years’ levels. The number of job postings and companies posting trucking jobs barely changed, so competition for drivers increased by about 4% in April.
Comparing April 2022 to April 2019 (for a pre-pandemic comparison), this past month there were 30% more people searching for driving jobs (+444,000), while there were 115% more jobs available (+241,000) for these searchers.
While record-high diesel fuel prices and the drop in van segments’ spot rates continue to dampen the freight outlook, FTR still projects overall trucking conditions to be favorable for carriers through the end of the year. However, it now forecasts that conditions will be much closer to neutral between carriers and shippers than it had been predicting before March.
FTR’s latest outlook for truckload freight rates is weaker than its prior forecast. FTR expects rates in 2022 to increase by 3.8% YoY, down from 4.5%. They expect spot rates to decline 2% YoY and contract rates to increase 7.5% YoY. They forecast that 2023 will see a 3.4% YoY decrease in rates.
FTR expects freight volumes to continue to remain strong and are expected to grow in both 2022 and 2023. They predict a 4.2% increase in 2022 compared to 2021, and they are projecting a 3.0% increase in 2023 from 2022. Since their last forecast, they have a stronger outlook for flatbed and specialized loadings in 2022, while bulk/dump and tank loadings’ growth forecasts are weaker.
While some sources have predicted a freight recession, freight demand has remained strong. While risks are rising due to inflation and the potential government policies aimed at curtailing inflation, they are still just risks and may not come to fruition.
Spending on consumer goods, when adjusted for inflation, has flattened out at levels below—but close to—the record set a year ago after the final round of consumer stimulus.
Currently, industrial production and manufacturing output are strong, and the backlog from pent-up demand should keep industrial/manufacturing freight strong through at least the end of the year. The Federal Reserve’s industrial production index was at its highest level ever, and manufacturing output is at its strongest since August 2008. The entire manufacturing sector is experiencing higher demand than production can satisfy, so even if the broader economy stalls and manufacturing demand drops with it, a significant portion of production would be needed to replace worn-out or obsolete equipment.
The share of seated trucks engaged in hauling freight is still above 97%. FTR expects active truck utilization to remain at or above 97% through 2023. With such a high utilization rate, risks to the forecast are mostly to the downside since there isn’t much room for truck use to increase. Dealers and fleets remain in desperate need of new trucks. Truck production increased only 1% in March as OEMs struggle to increase build rates. For trucks ordered in March, the estimated average lead time from order to delivery was 9.8 months.
 Market information taken from:
FTR. “Trucking Update: May 2022.” 29 Apr 2022, FTR.