The following metrics are sourced from truck driver recruiting campaigns managed by Randall Reilly. Recent trends are detailed below 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 over 6.75 million users. 5.88 million users visited using a mobile device, 790k visited using a computer, and 127k visited using a tablet.
For Driver Recruiting campaigns managed by Randall Reilly, in the past 12 months:
Drivers’ high job search intent is keeping lead and hire costs at levels not seen since the pandemic-disrupted months in 2020.
Drivers are converting on recruiting landing pages at the highest rate on record. That great conversion rate, combined with low click costs, has resulted in lead costs in August, September, and the first half of October dropping to levels last seen two years ago.
The overall average hire cost hardly changed in September. While the lower lead costs have brought down hire costs in previous months, cost per hire flattened out in September. However, this is likely due to calendar quirks more than market shifts. There were only three non-holiday Mondays in September, and since many fleets start orientation then and attribute hires to Mondays, a higher percentage of drivers who agreed to drive for a fleet in September will officially be hired in October. October has five Mondays, so expect hire costs to drop in October if other conditions remain relatively stable.
The number of truck driver job postings fell by 24% month-over-month (MoM) in September. This sharp decline in postings suggests that carriers are starting to limit the number of drivers they are looking to hire amid the current economic uncertainty.
Click costs (CPC) are on pace to fall slightly (between 2% and 6%) in October, after single-digit increases in costs in September. Recent Search and Facebook click costs remain lower than they have been in the past few years: Search CPC has been at lower levels than any time since the summer of 2020, and Facebook’s click cost has been at lower levels than any time since the winter of 2020-21.
Display CPC continues to be higher than in past years, mainly because the digital marketing team at Randall Reilly is focusing on improving lead counts from display ads rather than click counts.
September’s overall average cost per lead (CPL) inched up 2%, but through the first half of October, the overall average lead cost is on pace to drop 7% from last month. October’s average CPL is on pace to be at its lowest level since August 2020.
All tracked experienced driver types are on pace to have their CPL decrease by between 3% and 10% in October.
Student campaign CPL remains very low compared to historical performance. October’s lead costs are on pace to be at their second lowest point on record; only July’s CPL was lower.
September’s hire costs (CPH) for both company driver and owner-operators campaigns hardly changed from August’s hire costs. Preliminary data shows the company driver average CPH ticked up 2% from August, while owner-operator CPH was flat.
For company driver campaigns, the average lead-to-hire ratio (LTH) has held quite steady for the past six months. Conversely, the LTH for owner-operator campaigns continues to drop lower and is at its lowest value on record. The favorable LTH ratio for owner-operator campaigns is likely the result of continued high diesel prices combined with slumping spot rates, causing owner-operators to want the increased cost and load certainty that comes with partnering with a carrier.
Due to Labor Day and the way the calendar fell, there were only three non-holiday Mondays in September. Since many fleets start orientations on Mondays and attribute hire dates to the beginning of orientation, a higher percentage of drivers who agreed to drive for a fleet in September are likely to be officially hired in October. October has five Mondays, so expect CPH to fall in October if other conditions remain relatively stable.
Behavior on recruiting landing pages continues to show that there are slightly fewer drivers coming to recruiting landing pages, but those that are coming to the pages have a high intent in their job searches. This month multicarrier applications are up, and the conversion rate on landing pages is ticking up ever further from their already very high levels to their highest point on record.
In September, the number of job postings for truck drivers dropped 24% from August. This was the biggest monthly percentage drop on record (going back to March 2019). The number of posting companies dropped by just 5%, indicating that many carriers are cutting their number of open positions rather than stopping all hiring.
The number of job seekers decreased by 10%, but since the number of job postings dropped by a larger percentage, the number of job seekers per job rose to 7.0, which is the highest number of seekers per job since May 2020.
Comparing September 2022 to September 2019 (for a pre-pandemic comparison), this past month there were 65% more people searching for driving jobs (+929,000), while there were 83% more jobs available (+152,000) for these searchers.
FTR continues to report that trucking conditions are currently slightly negative for carriers. Their Trucking Conditions Index has now had a negative reading for the past four months. FTR forecasts negative conditions for carriers through mid-2024. They note that fuel price declines could produce some positive months but caution that lower fuel costs would be a result of weaker freight demand and capacity utilization.
FTR’s outlook for truckload freight rates continues to weaken incrementally. FTR now expects rates in 2022 to decrease by 0.6% YoY excluding fuel, down from -0.2% YoY in their previous estimate. Spot rates are expected to fall 14.5% YoY, while the forecast for contract rates is +8.0% YoY. FTR’s forecast for truckload rates in 2023 is a drop of 7.4%, as spot rates are expected to decrease by 12.7% while contract rates are predicted to drop by 4.8%.
In contrast, FTR expects LTL rates in 2022 to increase 14.2% YoY, up from +13.9%. Their forecast for 2023 is a decrease of 4%, an improvement from -4.6%.
FTR expects total truck loadings to increase 2.4% YoY in 2022, down from +2.9% YoY in the prior forecast. They have a weaker freight outlook for all haul types and major commodity groups than in their last forecast. For 2023, they expect a 1.2% increase in loadings, down from +2.0% in their previous forecast.
Truck transportation employment added 800 seasonally adjusted payroll jobs in August then lost 11,400 (-0.7%) jobs in September. Despite the large drop in employment in September, employment levels remain far above pre-pandemic numbers (+65,400 jobs, or +4.3%, above February 2020 numbers). The September numbers suggest that motor carriers added too much capacity, causing supply to exceed demand and its resulting prices, which in turn causes higher rates of exits and downsizing. This last happened in 2019 and in 2015 before that.
FTR’s forecast for active truck utilization continues to weaken slightly as the outlook for freight demand eases and capacity rises incrementally. The share of seated trucks actively hauling freight now looks to bottom out early next year at just under 91%, which matches the five-year average, before starting to firm modestly in late 2023.
Truck production increased by 6% in August as progress to increase build rates remains difficult in the current supply chain environment. For trucks ordered in August, the estimated average time from order to delivery decreased to 6.9 months versus 8.8 months in July.
 October’s lead and hire stats are taken from campaign performance from October 1 to 16; all others are taken from September 1 to 15.
 Market information is taken from:
FRED. “All Employees (seasonally adjusted), Truck Transportation.” 20 Oct 2022, St. Louis Fed.
FTR. “Trucking Update: October 2022.” 30 Sep 2022, FTR.
Miller, Jason. “Truck Transportation Employment.” Oct 2022, LinkedIn.