Driver recruitment and retention remains the top priority throughout the trucking industry.

Estimates suggest more than 200,000 qualified CDL holders are no longer operating due to headwinds created by the pandemic as well as increased compliance with the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. Diminished driver school graduation rates, early retirements and more than 75,000 violations recorded by the clearinghouse are just some of the catalysts for the reductions in the industry’s driver pool.

Tenstreet data shows driver hiring conditions are easing

However, relief may be on the way, according to Tulsa, Oklahoma-based software-as-a-service provider Tenstreet. A Thursday report from the company that helps carriers better recruit and onboard drivers noted a “positive driver hiring outlook on the horizon.”

There has been a “slow but steady climb back to January levels” since April, the data showed, with the number of drivers filling out job lead forms and applications continuing to move higher.

January is usually a busy month for activity as drivers tend to inquire about changing fleets or jobs at the beginning of each year. However, February and March saw a sharp falloff in activity, which was in part due unusually harsh winter weather this year.

“Overall, we’re starting to see the same general seasonal trend lines the trucking industry is used to, with applications taking a hopeful turn upward in May, which will ideally mirror 2019’s trend of an increase in applications over the summer and into the fall,” the report read.

Increased recruiting costs have had carriers paying incrementally more per job application so far in 2021 but the trend turned lower in May.

“As more drivers reenter the market, this cost will hopefully continue to fall, cutting your recruiting costs over the long run as there are more candidates to choose from that meet specific hiring requirements,” the report stated.

While the tide may be turning, ‘historic’ increases continue

UPT announces largest pay bump in company history (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

United Petroleum Transports announced Wednesday its largest pay raise for company drivers.

The Oklahoma City-based company said the undisclosed increase will be permanent across all mileage brackets and hourly pay structures regardless of the time the driver has been with the company. The carrier’s independent contractors will see a pay bump as well.

All pay increases will be reflected in the July 9 pay period.

The carrier also added additional seniority levels to its driver program to reward longevity with the company.

“UPT was founded on the idea of mutually beneficial relationships,” said Greg Price, CEO at UPT.

The press release cited support from customers and their understanding of the “the growing needs of the market” as a catalyst for the pay raise.

The tank truck carrier has been in business for more than 55 years, hauling motor and aviation fuels as well as chemicals throughout the Southwest with a driver base of more than 500.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Todd Maiden.

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