Data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that while employment is still relatively high, fewer jobs are coming open – and that’s a trend likely to continue well into this new year. 

Transportation has lost job numbers for the past four months (through November) but despite that, Rob Boersma, vice president of operations at Talent.com – who joins Jason and Matt this week on the 10-44 – says that drivers’ interest in new jobs is on an uptick, even as fewer open positions come available. 

Contents of this video

00:00 Trucking employment in 2023

01:53 Availability of jobs in transportation

05:33 Wage growth in transportation

07:26 Active job seekers

08:50 Increased job searches

Transcript

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Trucking employment underwent a lot of changes in 2022, but what’s in store for 2023?

Jason Cannon
Hey everybody, welcome to 2023 and welcome back to the 10-44 a weekly episode from the editors here at CCJ. I’m Jason Cannon and my co-host on the other side is Matt Cole. It’s new year, new me time for millions of us, whether that means joining the gym, stopping smoking, or finding a new job.

Matt Cole
Recruiting and retention is an ongoing battle, especially in transportation where turnover rates routinely exceed 90% for drivers.

Jason Cannon
Now, generally when we think of truck driver recruitment, we think of an HR or marketing rep scrambling to find somebody to fill a seat. But Robert Boersma, who’s Vice President of Operations at talent.com says the current dynamic actually goes the other way.

Robert Boersma
Driver interest is actually on an uptick from what we’ve seen. So as folks we saw companies like FedEx doing furloughs, we see fewer open positions that are happening, driver interest increases. And so what that does is that actually drives down the cost per hire for recruiters. So when they’re looking at their end of the year and every recruiter, just like everybody has a year-end performance review and says I do this year, they’re going to be looking at how many people did I put in seats, and what was my cost per hire?

And so this is the first reprieve that they’re going to be having is over the next little while. It will become less expensive for them to acquire that driving talent, that truck driving talent because of the way that the labor economy has been and of the little bit of the easing that’s happening right now. So as much as on the driving side of things a little bit down, it’s going to make the recruiter’s lives a little bit easier. And it’s always that tug of war that one of them is going to be dealing with a more challenging situation than others.

Matt Cole
Data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that while employment is still relatively high, fewer jobs are coming open, that limits option to any given field and often puts more jobseekers into the market.

Robert Boersma
So even if they’re working right now, people kind of like to keep their options open and there’s just fewer of those options right now. So to give you kind of a sense in November, transportation jobs, I mean it’s been four months in a row that they’ve been down and they lost another 15 K jobs, 15,000 jobs lost in November on the latest BLS report. And what we see is that lowered demand looks like it’s going to be sustained because we kind of look at the adjacently involved industries as well. So we’re looking at retail and we’re looking at warehouse jobs as well. So retail lost in another 30 K jobs seasonally adjusted in the November BLS as well. And so that that’s going to be a driving factor of that. And what we see in what’s sustaining that lower demand, which then the lower demand creates fewer positions, which actually creates higher jobseeker intent is that consumer spending is shifting away from material goods, at least right now.

We saw really, really strong material goods spending, which then cranks up jobs in retail and warehouse and definitely transportation through the pandemic. But right now we see a significant increase in hospitality. So people are just putting their money elsewhere right now, and this is probably post pandemic, partially, people are putting their money into travel, they’re going places, taking vacations, taking trips. They’re putting money into hospitality in terms of hotels going and staying places and going out to eat food. So signing up for services, going out for food restaurants. And those industries are really seeing actually a material increase in labor demand. And so that kind of plays into that sustained lower demand because companies are not requiring as much in terms of their transport needs. And so that kind of has a bit of a wave effect that then creates lower number of potential job openings, which influx creates more awareness for a broader range of positions coming for jobseekers or people who are open to working in other spots

Jason Cannon:              
Coming out of the pandemic, there was a fairly significant reversal in consumer spending from goods to services, but the ongoing onslaught of interest rate hikes was and is supposed to tamp that down somewhat. We’re still battling inflation and the overhang of a maybe, maybe not recession. So what does that mean for transpo jobs sometime this year? Rob tells us after this word from 10-44 sponsor, Chevron Lubricants.

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Robert Boersma
I don’t want to be doom and gloom. I do think there’s a chance that transportation employment continues it slowdown. I think there’s a chance that it continues its slowdown over the first quarter. That’s what the Fed is trying to do, effectively increasing interest rates, slowing the economy, decreasing price pressures. They’re really actively working on that. And the reality is usually when the government sets their mind to something… Well, this is maybe too broad of a statement, but they have mechanisms that do work and we do see that things are still pretty hot. So an indicator of that for me is wage growth, nominal wage growth. And that’s something that the Fed is trying to cool. They’re trying to keep a handle on wages going insane. It sounds a little counterintuitive, it sounds like you’re kind of… I’m not advocating against jobseekers here. Wage growth is great, everybody deserves pay increases, but when things go too out of control, price pressures just become too much and your buying power actually decreases.

So to give you a sense, in trucking transportation jobs, we’ve seen a year-over-year increase of almost 5% and continued very strong growth. So in the latest BLS report, nominal wage growth was 12% in November. Annualized nominal wage growth is 12% in November. So wages, wage pressures continue to increase. That’s one of the things that the Fed is fighting these interest rates. We know that interest rates have impact on retailers they have in impact on home buyers and all those things have a trickle-down effect and impact how many shipments are going out. So I think as long as there’s consistent effort to try and cool the economy, I think we’ll probably see a little bit of a cooling as well in the employment market, which is a bit of a reprieve on the recruiter side, but I know very challenging on the truck driving side and definitely one of the things that I think causes some of those job changing and people to get back out there and kind of look at reskilling or trying to try something different a little bit in the short term,

Matt Cole
Rob says he’s beginning to see more jobseekers click on more job opportunities, meaning the people currently seeking employment are looking hard and with intent

Robert Boersma
On top of seeing net new higher keywords, we also see higher intention and so higher action. So an existing user might make a search, but rather than clicking on only one job or two jobs, what one of our key focuses right now is, well, how many jobs are they clicking on? How actively is somebody searching? So we’ve all been a tire kicker I think at some point in our lives through our careers is, hey, I’ve got a job alert and I kind of check out what’s available every now and again and maybe I click on something if it’s interesting or I see a salary that’s kind of looking pretty good. And what we’re seeing right now is people are showing more interest. And so even though the net number of searches might be remaining somewhat similar as people are taking that little extra comb through, and so the user activity we expect to see through next year is actually going to double.

So right now people might take one or two actions and then kind of abandon their session. What we want to see and what we expect to see is people are going to be taking three, four, or five. So we’re actually kind of taking that deeper look into the available job pool to say, okay, maybe I’m going to take this search a little bit more seriously. So we do expect there to be a net increase in searches, but what we’re already seeing is kind of that ripple effect where the net number of actions that people are taking basically indicating that, hey, I’m actually looking a little bit more actively right now. That’s already on the uptick.

Jason Cannon
Job seeking tends to ramp up ahead of the holiday before taking a break during the Christmas and New Year timeframe. But it’s just about the heat back up when those Christmas credit card bills come due. And Rob says when it heats up, he expects it to get hot and to get hot quickly.

Robert Boersma
Yeah, I think it’s going to be actually a heavier swing this year, but there are some industries where things are loosening up a little bit and therefore people might be a little bit more open to making those sort of shifts. There are some keeners who are new year, new me for sure. The reality is it kind of hits its up swing around the 10th to 12th kind of… Well, I’ll check the calendar, kind of see what it looks like, but it depends a little bit on the weekends. But usually that first week is pretty quiet, so we’ll call it the ninth this year. That’s kind of when I expecting kind of that first Monday back, because you’ve got Monday the second in January, but that’s usually a stat holiday because the first is on the Sunday. And so you’ve got the third, fourth, fifth. People are still taking some vacation during that time.

It’s still pretty quiet the first week and there’s definitely a bit of a ramp up. So I love analogies. I look at it a little bit like the gym. You always see a big uptick in gym memberships and people out there working out kind of first week of January, you’ve got the real keeners who get at it right away. And then you’ve got probably the bulk of folks who come in the second, the third week after they say, all right, let’s do this. Let’s get out there, let’s get to the gym. And the reality is, for a lot of folks, a job search is almost like going to the gym where you got to kind of just get it done, psych yourself up, and kind of get into that mindset and start doing it and we kind of see the same thing. So yeah, it’s not necessarily an immediate uptick kind of second, third week is when things sort of ramp up.

Jason Cannon
That’s it for this week’s 10-44. You can read more on ccjdigital.com, and as always, you can find the 10-44 each week on CCJ’s YouTube channel. If you’ve got questions, comments, criticisms or feedback, please hit us up at 1044trucking@gmail.com or give us a call at 404 491 1380. Until next week, everybody stay safe.