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 was visited by over 4.38 million users. Over 3.5 million unique users visited using a mobile device, over 770k visited using a computer, and over 110k visited using a tablet.
For Driver Recruiting campaigns managed by Randall-Reilly:
The freight market continues to be favorable for trucking companies: freight remains plentiful, and rates are still elevated. Furthermore, while it still is difficult to fill open positions, almost all data—from the number of job seekers to lead and hire costs—indicate that more drivers are seriously looking for a trucking job than have been in the past few months.
Lead costs (CPL) remain elevated, but average overall CPL in July is on pace to decrease by a higher percentage (-13%) than at any time since the beginning of the pandemic.
June’s hire costs (CPH) decreased MoM for both company driver and owner-operator campaigns.
 July stats are taken from campaign performance between July 1 and 15.
Click costs (CPC) remain high, but Search costs have been moving back toward 2019 and 2020 levels, and Display is on pace for its lowest CPC since March. Meanwhile, Facebook CPC continues to increase to new highs each month and is on pace to do so again in July.
Click-through rate (CTR) for all three channels was up in June, and CTRs have continued improving in July for Search and Display. This suggests that drivers are looking for jobs with higher intent than they had been in Q2. Search is on pace to have its highest CTR since February, Display has its highest CTR since December, and Facebook is on pace to have its second highest CTR of the year (behind only June’s).
Facebook has a similar CTR to last July’s CTR, when CPC was half as high. This indicates that auctions remain very expensive to win, likely due to increased competition on the channel.
While average lead costs (CPL) remain elevated, the average CPL for July is on pace to be 13% less than June’s and be at its lowest point since March.
Both company driver and student campaigns are on pace to have double-digit percentage decreases in July (-12% and -17%, respectively). Owner-operator campaigns are on pace for a slight decrease in CPL, and Team campaigns are the only section on pace for a MoM CPL increase through the first half of July.
Student campaigns are approaching the average CPLs from 2020 and 2019, giving optimism that potential drivers are interested in getting their CDL and start driving, which would help increase capacity.
Average hire costs (CPH) for both company driver and owner-operator campaigns saw substantial decreases in June due to improvements in hire ratios (LTH).
The average CPH for company driver campaigns in June decreased by 11% from May, but CPH remains 71% higher than last June. The improvement in LTH and CPH suggests that drivers are more serious about switching carriers or getting back into driving trucks than they have been in the past few months. However, drivers continue to have many options, and costs continue to be high to hire a company driver.
It is very likely that many truck drivers are becoming owner-operators [see the ‘Market Information’ section], and it appears that these new owner-operators are looking to partner with carriers. As a result, the cost of partnering with an owner-operator in June dropped by 22% and had almost the same average cost as in June 2019. While cost per lead for owner-operators remains high, June’s very low LTH brought CPH in line with historical (pre-Covid) averages.
Visitors to Randall-Reilly recruiting landing pages (called ‘users’ below) are on pace to increase dramatically in July. That, along with the increase in multicarrier (MCA) applicants in June and July, further suggests that an increased number of people are interested in finding a new driving job, and this also helps explain the lower CPL and CPH costs discussed above.
With the large increase of visitors to landing pages, a decrease in conversion rate is expected. The data suggests that visitors are following ads to recruiting landing pages to check out more jobs in detail, and while CPL costs show that more people are applying to more jobs, these visitors are applying to a smaller percentage of jobs that they are looking at closely.
We are now finally seeing the number of job seekers on job boards move back to the level seen before Covid. While the number of truck driving jobs posted on job boards has dropped from the high levels seen earlier this year, the number of available jobs remains very elevated.
Compared to June 2019, there were nearly 45,000 more people searching for truck driving jobs (+3%), but there were nearly 160,000 more jobs available for these searchers (+86%). As a result, the number of job seekers per job remains well below pre-Covid levels.
Carriers continue to benefit from very favorable trucking market conditions, and conditions are forecast to remain very favorable through 2021 and positive for trucking companies through 2022. Recent developments indicate that capacity should improve: 24,500 drivers were added to payrolls in June, and Class 8 truck production increased by 24% in May. If capacity is added sooner than forecast, conditions may decline for carriers—especially in 2022.
Rates continue to be very favorable for trucking companies. FTR forecasts total rates to be up nearly 18% YoY in 2021. Spot rates look to rise 27% YoY, while contract rates are expected to be up 13%. Recent trends suggest that rates may have peaked and will level off or trend downwards—but remain high—in H2 2021 (with the exception for traditional December seasonality).
Despite the good employment numbers for truck transportation in June, overall employment in the industry remains about 30,000 below June 2019 numbers (-3%). However, the unprecedented surge in new carriers—most of whom are very small—could be depressing payroll employment, since many of those operations are likely not reflected in payroll employment. That is, many drivers may be becoming owner-operators and are no longer in employment data but continue to haul freight.
For Class 8 trucks ordered in May, the estimated average time from order to delivery fell to 10.3 months (vs. 11.7 in April), due to a decrease in new truck orders and production improvements. While build rates are expected to improve some in Q3, OEMs are still limited by shortages of semiconductors and other components.
It is worth noting that load posting volume on the spot market usually rebounds after a holiday weekend, but the spot market did not rebound after the July 4th holiday. Although any number of factors could mean weaker volume in a given week, a notable drop in dry van and refrigerated load postings last week could be a signal that the market is normalizing after more than a year of extraordinary stress.
 Market information taken from:
FTR. “Spot Market Insights: Spot volume falls in possible sign of van market easing.” 19 Jul 2021, FTR & Truckstop.
FTR. “Trucking Update: July 2021.” 30 Jun 2021, FTR.
Miller, Jason. LinkedIn postings (multiple). July 2021, Michigan State University.