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Driver employment market may be improving amid ‘historic’ pay increases

Tenstreet data shows steady build in driver interest since April

Driver hiring may be easing (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

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.


  1. Freight Zippy

    The driver market is not improving.
    Not until drivers can earn real wages and shippers end the practice of expecting drivers to compensate for their poor operations.
    When grocery warehouses treat drivers as humans perhaps things will improve few active drivers will refer anyone to enter this industry.
    We need to refuse to service poorly managed delivery customers until these become easy to do business with..

  2. Stephen+Webster

    number of trucking companies in Ontario are paying 75 cents to corporate account or 61 cents plus 3 cents per mile R S P and 2,5 cents per mile vacation pay on payroll. Local companies paying $26.00 per hour or 32.00 per hour to a corporate account time and half for Sunday for experienced drivers are getting many truck and bus drivers have applied for each position. Note cd money is 80 percent of the U S dollar . Many companies are still trying to hire students at $17 to $19.00 on payroll or 21 to $24.50 to a corporate account that are large and self insured. These students need trucks with automatic transmission. and preventive brake .systems.

  3. SafetyMan

    Considering the source…Tenstreet who want people to think the driver market is getting better because they want more advertising dollars from their clients. I haven’t seen this claim anywhere else so I’ll say bunk.

Comments are closed.

Todd Maiden

Based in Richmond, VA, Todd is the finance editor at FreightWaves. Prior to joining FreightWaves, he covered the TLs, LTLs, railroads and brokers for RBC Capital Markets and BB&T Capital Markets. Todd began his career in banking and finance before moving over to transportation equity research where he provided stock recommendations for publicly traded transportation companies.