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 5 million users. Over 4 million unique users visited using a mobile device, over 860k visited using a computer, and over 120k visited using a tablet.
For Driver Recruiting campaigns managed by Randall-Reilly:
Trucking conditions will continue to be highly favorable for carriers through the end of the year, and projections for 2022’s market conditions have further improved from their previous lofty forecasts. As a result, the competition for drivers remains fierce from carriers, and lead and hire costs remain elevated.
The average overall cost per lead (CPL) for September ended up rising by quite a bit in the second half of the month, resulting in a 10% month-over-month (MoM) increase in average CPL.
Average hire costs (CPH) differed by driver type: hire costs for company driver campaigns increased in September, whereas owner-operator campaigns’ average CPH decreased.
 October stats are taken from campaign performance between October 1 and 15.
While click costs (CPC) remain elevated, costs are on pace to ease slightly in October. Search CPC closely matches year-over-year (YoY) costs, while Facebook and Display costs remain elevated compared to 2020 costs.
Facebook CPC is on pace for a 10% decrease from September, which would be its biggest month-over-month (MoM) percentage decrease since April 2020.
The average overall cost per lead (CPL) for September ended up rising by quite a bit in the second half of the month. The increase in leads per day after the expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits was short lived – the increase was concentrated in the first half of the month.
Through the first half of October, overall average CPL is down some, but lead costs tend to creep up in the second half of the month. Therefore, be prepared for October’s average CPL to end up being higher than September’s.
Average company driver CPL is down in October, but it is higher for other major driver types. Average CPL for owner-operators is on pace to be higher than CPL for company drivers for the first time since before the pandemic began.
Note: The process used to find CPL has changed slightly to better match other Randall-Reilly reporting methods. Historical numbers have changed some from previous reports.
As predicted in last month’s newsletter, average cost per hire (CPH) for company driver campaigns increased in September. While lead-to-hire rates (LTH) decreased slightly, the increase in CPL and fewer orientation days caused CPH to rise by 10% from August.
Conversely, average owner-operator CPH costs dropped by 28% from August despite an increase in CPL and fewer orientation days. The big decrease was due a drastic improvement in LTH. In fact, owner-operator LTH was at its lowest point on record in September. There has been evidence that there is a flood of new owner-operators being granted operation to take advantage of the favorable rates and freight volumes. The good LTH number could suggest that these new owner-operators are looking to partner with a carrier to get help and guidance with all the non-driving aspects of being an owner-operator, but lead data indicates that they are not filling out applications to many different carriers.
Note: the process used to find CPH has changed slightly to better match other Randall-Reilly reporting methods. Historical numbers have changed some from previous reports.
Visitor behavior on Randall-Reilly recruiting landing pages in October is closely matching their behavior in September. The number of users has hardly changed, and they are spending the same amount of time on the landing pages and converting at the same rate.
The number of multicarrier applicants is on pace to increase by 11% from September and be at its highest level since April 2020.
The number of job seekers on job boards declined a bit in September. While the number of jobs posted remained fairly steady, there were 900 fewer companies advertising truck driver jobs than in August, suggesting that the level of competition for the drivers may be down a bit from August.
Comparing September 2021 to September 2019, there were 7% more people (+95,000) searching for driving jobs, but there were 117% more jobs available (+215,000) for these searchers. As a result, the number of job seekers per job remains far below pre-COVID levels.
Trucking conditions will continue to be highly favorable for carriers through the end of the year, and projections for 2022’s market conditions for carriers have further improved from their previous lofty forecasts.
The near-term outlook for truckload rates remains unusually stable. FTR forecasts total rates to be up nearly 18% YoY in 2021. Spot rates look to rise 28% YoY, while contract rates are expected to be up 13%. FTR now expects rates for 2022 to be higher than 2021 rates, although only by 0.3%. Just two months ago, FTR predicted that rates in 2022 would be 0.8% lower than 2021, so their forecast is more bullish than it has been.
Freight volumes continue to remain strong and are expected to grow further in 2022. FTR forecasts 5.8% more truck loadings in 2021 than in 2020, and they expect a 4.2% increase in 2022 compared to 2021, which is nearly a full point stronger than their previous forecast.
Of course, the question for carriers is whether they can find and seat Class 8 trucks to take advantage of the extra freight and high rates. As Randall-Reilly recruiting metrics show in previous sections, the competition for drivers remains fierce, and data suggest that the industry needs more drivers to match supply with capacity—although the number of drivers needed is likely closer to 20,000 than the 80,000 some have claimed. FTR forecasts that while difficulty in finding drivers may have peaked in Q2, it will remain difficult to find and hire drivers through all of 2022.
And while Class 8 truck production improved in August, there is still a huge amount of partially completed units awaiting semiconductor chips and other backordered parts. The estimated average time from order to delivery for Class 8 trucks was 11.6 months for trucks ordered in August. Dealer inventory remains scarce, and it will be difficult to acquire new trucks until the supply chain improves.
As a result, active truck utilization remains very high, and FTR expects active utilization to remain above 97% through late 2022. Robust spot metrics and the ongoing surge in the number of new carriers getting authority suggest no near-term easing regarding productivity. At this point, even if utilization softens relative to FTR’s expectation, the trucking industry is not likely to see a normalization resembling what was seen after the 2018 peak.
 Market information taken from:
FTR. “Trucking Update: October 2021.” 30 Aug 2021, FTR.
Miller, Jason. “Guest blog: With the Truck Driver Shortage, How Many More Drivers will be Enough?” 28 Sep 2021, C.H. Robinson.
Miller, Jason. LinkedIn postings (multiple). Oct 2021, Michigan State University.