Monthly Archives: June 2013

Trucking Jobs: Surge In April, Drop in May—Reasons For Hope?

Employment in the U.S is getting better, and some experts feel the trucking industry is actually starting to catch up.

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In the past few years, hiring in the U.S. has been steadily on the rise. The nation added more than 40,000 jobs in the past 12 months, with 151,800 new jobs created since March 2010—when the country began to climb out of the economic hole of the 2008 Great Recession.

In May 2013, American employers added 175,000 jobs—not necessarily robust growth, but strong nonetheless.

However, for the trucking industry, the most recent labor numbers were a little less rosy. In the same month, for-hire truck driver jobs actually dropped by 700. Although small, this number represents a stark contrast, particularly when compared to the 12,500 jobs created in April.

Job Growth Steady, If Not Energetic

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added 12,000 fewer jobs in April and March. An average of 155,000 new jobs added in the past three months, below the average of 237,000 new hiring from November through February.

Last week, the labor Department announced a slight increase in unemployment in April, to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent. More people are beginning to look for work. Three-quarters of new job seekers had found jobs; something many economists see as a good sign.

Employment Numbers, Stock Markets and the Fed

Stock markets varied on speculation the Fed would inhibit bond purchases for the rest of the year. Modest job gains might cause the Federal Reserve to keep the pace of its bond purchases. The Fed has promised to maintain a steady pace of bond purchases until the job market improves significantly.

Regular bond purchases help drive down interest rates, as well as rise stock prices.

Job growth has been steadfast in the first quarter of 2013, even in the face of higher taxes and spending cuts by the federal government. Many fear that continued austerity—spending cuts and poor growth worldwide—will continue to frustrate the job market.

For the transportation industry, that was the first of the bad news.

Manufacturing, Federal Employees and the Trucking Industry

To add to trucking company woes, manufacturers last month reduced their labor force by 8,000 jobs, as well as the 14,000-drop in the number of federal employees. it was the third consecutive month of cuts for both of those employment sectors. Severe government spending cuts, combined with higher Social Security taxes, could also slow progress through June to a rate of 2 percent or less annually.

A New Hope for the Transportation Industry?

On the other hand, a few trends are giving the trucking industry a glimmer of hope.

In the most recent economic numbers, the economy continued to produce constant annual rate of 2.4 percent for the first quarter of the year. However, the best news comes from consumer spending, which rose at the sharpest rate in more than two years.

Overall, trucking industry experts predict the general hiring direction as a plus—with the slight decrease in May more of a “speed bump” than a downward spiral. When taken as a whole, they see the April growth demonstrating a business sector that is trying to play catch-up with the rest of the nation, and mostly succeeding.

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Five Rules for Optimizing Job Ads for Drivers

Searching for the finest experienced drivers in the trucking industry, the best piece of advertising is your job ad. Putting up the right job description makes all the difference, especially in the quality of the candidates you see.

great job adOptimizing driver job ads does not have to be a difficult process. In fact, when you know the elements of an effective job ad, creating them will certainly become second nature.

Great job ads give your business a wealth of benefits:

  • More choices—the immediate benefit of a well-optimized job ad is attracting a larger pool of qualified drivers. This increases your chances of finding just the right driver to have behind the wheel.
  • Time efficiency—without having to contend with a flood of unqualified applicants, you waste less of your valuable time by focusing on only the most relevant applicants.
  • Higher loyalty—an optimized job ad will produce better hires, more reliable and better performing drivers. Your employee drivers will be the best representatives of your brand.
  • More bang for your advertising buck—optimized job ads do not cost more than weak ads, but they do give you significantly higher returns.

To find your next great driver, follow these rules of the road

There are five rules when optimizing job ads in search for drivers; they are the advertising secrets to have your next driver job ad rise to the head of the pack. Use these rules, and you will win the biggest prize—high-quality drivers that make your business shine:

#1: BE Specific With Headlines

When placing job openings, your biggest challenge is visibility. To fill a job opening immediately with the right person, the job must stand out amid thousands of similar ads saying essentially the same thing.

The problem with a majority of job descriptions is that they are simply too vague.

With online job searches for drivers, candidates often fall victim to “advertising blindness.” This is a natural tendency for viewers of a web page to ignore much of the information—either consciously or unconsciously.

The way to prevent this natural tendency is to be as specific as possible. Short and descriptive titles will resonate with your targeted audience. Instead of a generic and bland “Truck Driver Wanted,” give your job description some detail (and pizazz) with “Company Driver CDL Class A (Jefferson County).

#2: BE Unique

Your trucking company should provide drivers something exceptional—a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Discover one thing that will set you apart from the multitude of competing voices, and use it to be memorable to job seekers.

Let the USP of your business become one of your best driver recruitment tools. Give drivers something substantial to talk about and driver word-of-mouth will do the rest.

Some of the most effective USP’s:

  • Industry Awards
  • Better Benefits
  • More home time
  • New or upgraded trucks/equipment
  • Signing bonuses

#3: BE Simple

The easiest rule to remember in optimization job ads—KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

The best drivers have more choices than unqualified drivers. They certainly don’t have time to waste. Long-winded and complex job ads will lose the attention of the reader quickly, as well as limit response rates.

Above all, for a job ad to be effective, it has to appeal to qualified candidates. Short, clear and descriptive ads will pique the interest of the right candidate. Leave out the fluff—and save extraneous details for a face-to-face interview.

#4: BE Urgent

Any advertising pro will tell you—ads need urgency to be effective. A job ad should stress how your business needs the right driver, right now:

  • Emphasize the current pricing (pay per mile or signing bonus)
  • Remind the reader of the limited amount of driving positions available (using specific numbers)
  • Promote hiring deadlines (specific date or number of days)

#5: BE Credible

In today’s interconnected world, informational social influence—called “social proof”—is one of the most powerful forces to transform lookers into buyers. This phenomenon increases the value within the marketplace or industry as well with. Companies use social proof to turn job seekers into interested candidates and applicants.

An experienced driver doesn’t care much what you have to say about your company, but they will listen to what others have to say about you. The biggest assets in hiring new drivers are your current drivers.

Use social proof to optimize a driver job ad in a number of ways:

  • Accreditation and awards from well-respected  and credible professional organizations (i.e. CSA awards)
  • Testimonials from current drivers
  • Mentions, articles and reviews in leading media

Optimizing your job ad is an essential part of hiring and managing quality drivers. A properly written job ad—no matter where you place it—will ensure both applicants and employees understand their roles, how they are accountable in their jobs, and exactly how valuable they are to your company and its success.

Top 5 Most Expensive Areas in the US to Recruit Truck Drivers

There is no doubt; things are certainly beginning to get better for tractor-trailer and other heavy equipment drivers. It also means that in some areas of the country finding the right people to place behind the wheel has become more of a challenge.

Truck driver wagesAccording to the most recent job figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates in the transportation industry dropped to just above 9 percent in the past 12 months. That still might be higher than the national average (around 7.8 percent), but these job numbers are showing a picture better than it was at its peak, when it hovered above 10 percent.

Truckers: Valuable Part of the American Economy

In 2012, more than 90,000 Americans have found jobs in the transportation industry in the past year. Add to that the fact that trucking accounts carry 80 percent of all consumer goods, and you have an extremely valuable portion of the American economy.

The area of the transportation industry that employs the most individuals is General Freight Trucking, which includes heavy and tractor-trailer drivers. Nearly 600,000 drivers represent more than 62 percent of the entire transportation industry.

In addition, tractor-trailer driver income is getting better. In 2013, they can now expect an average hourly wage of more than $20 per hour, with an annual mean wage for $41,680. In May of 2010, the median annual earnings of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers were only $37,770.

Higher Competition Equals Higher Driver Wages

When considering which areas of the country are the “most expensive” places for a trucking company to hire drivers, two factors happen to be the most important: industry employment rates and relative wages.

For most trucking companies, the main issue is higher pay. Companies looking to recruit in certain geographic areas will have to spend more money to attract qualified drivers. Higher wages equals greater competition for the right people to get behind the wheel of their vehicles (or to hire independent contractors).

That makes finding the right employees in any geographic area is a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are certain regions that pose a higher challenge for trucking companies. On the other, those same regions (for the most part) pay drivers the highest and have the greatest numbers of companies clamoring to find qualified truckers.

Top five most expensive places in the U.S. for a company to recruit drivers:

#5: Eastern Illinois/Chicago

To hire drivers in the Chicago metropolitan area, it’s going to cost a company more money than almost any other region in the contiguous 48 states (more about that later).

The Chicago metro area, which includes Joliet and Naperville, ranks highest on the list. The area offers drivers an hourly mean wage of $23.96, equating to an annual median salary of nearly $50,000.

#4: Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, especially the heavy tractor-trailer industry. There are certainly more truckers in Texas than anywhere else. With the highest number of drivers per thousand jobs, the competition for qualified truckers in Texas is fierce.

On a bright note, the average driver pay in Texas is slightly below average, at just above $40,000 per year. This makes the Lone Star State a relative bargain, compared to others on this list.

#3: Southern California

Texas may be bigger than California in size, when it comes to finding highly qualified drivers; the Southern California sunshine just might beat the Texas heat. Between the Los Angeles and Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan areas, a combination of high trucker employment and the overall number of trucker jobs is more than 30 percent below the U.S. average.

For companies in the transportation industry, this means it will take considerably more effort to find qualified truck drivers looking for work than in other parts of the country. However, trucking wages are right at the national average at $41,500 annually.

#2: Joplin, MO

Southern California transportation industry may have its challenges for business looking for qualified employees; however, Joplin, Missouri deserves specific mention. Of any single city (as opposed to a geographic region) in the United States, Joplin has (by far) the most number of employed truckers as a percentage of total jobs. Six percent of ALL JOBS in Joplin are in the heavy and tractor-trailer industry, making it a paradise for truckers, but a headache for companies looking to avoid having to outbid other businesses for the best on-the-road talent.

The bottom line is that if you are a big-rig driver in Joplin, chances are you already have a decent job, and are not looking to change.  To attract drivers, a company will have to pay quite a bit more than the regional average of $46,000 a year.

#1: Alaska

Compared to anywhere in the entire U.S., drivers have it the best in the Great White North. The good life for truckers suggests trucking companies can expect to be hit the hardest (at least financially) when finding qualified employees in the area.

Alaska has relatively low trucker unemployment as well as a high “location quotient,” where the concentration of workers in that occupation is significantly higher than the national average.

What puts Alaska tops of the list is not one, but two of the highest paying cities for heavy tractor-trailer drivers in the entire U.S.  Fairbanks tops the entire country in average wages for driver pay, with the highest per hour wage of $25.27, and drivers can expect an average annual salary of more than $52,500. Anchorage also makes the top five in gross wages, with average hourly earnings of $24.31.

The BEST place to find tractor-trailer drivers in the United States is…

Florida

With one of lowest average annual salaries for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers—a “bargain basement” $36,310—Florida also has one of the lowest percentages of trucking jobs in the region. Those numbers make Florida the place to beat for have best chances of hiring qualified truckers at a reasonable salary.

What’s more, the economic recovery from the 2008 downturn is beginning to gain steam in the Sunshine State.  The April 2013 overall unemployment numbers came in at 7.2 percent, much lower than the national average.

For trucking companies in the need for well-qualified drivers, especially in the Southeast U.S., the numbers show that the time to hire skilled drivers in Florida is right now. Act quickly and you will see the best “bang” for your employment dollar!

Are You Ready for New Federal Rules on Hours-Of-Service?

For long-haul truckers, the ideal safety strategy is a rested, refreshed and alert driver. It’s the only real way to prepare for whatever happens on the road.

Road safety is also the reason the federal government limits driver’s hours-of-service (HOS). You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that too many consecutive hours without a rest break cause the chances of a serious accident go way up.

truck driver asleep at the wheel

via collettemotorsinc.com

With that in mind, some changes have been underway for the trucking industry, and the compliance deadline is fast approaching—important updates to the federal rules regarding driver HOS.

Starting July 1, the last final rule provisions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) go into effect governing trucker HOS.

 

FMSCA used six public listening sessions to help develop the new regulations, calling on a wide range of experts, as well as the newest research into driver fatigue.

New rules on hours driven in a workweek

The final rules on HOS reduce the maximum time drivers can work within a week by 12 hours. Previously, they could drive up to an average of up to 82 hours within a seven-day period.

Now a driver workweek is limited to no more than 70 hours.

The first definitions for on-duty times became effective February 2012. July 1 is the final compliance date for the remainder of the new rules.

Revised definitions for on-duty time

Under the new rules, team drivers must log as off-duty up to 2 hours in the passenger seat, either directly before or after the 8-hour time spent in the sleeper berth.

Additionally, time drivers spend resting in or on a parked commercial vehicle is not considered on-duty time.

New insights into driver safety are the reason for the change in regulations. Designed to reduce the risk of driver fatigue, the rules limit the number of hours worked, either close to or at the maximum. Long daily and weekly hours lead to an increased risk of accidents, as well as chronic health conditions brought on by lack of sleep.

The main purpose of the rule change is to reduce the risk of fatigue and related collisions. In addition, it hopes to curb the negative effects on driver health after long hours on the road.

Rest periods when the body needs the most rest

To maximize weekly work hours, drivers need to take a minimum two nights rest when from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.—the time when research shows that the body needs sleep the most. This is now part of a “34-hour restart” provision, which can allow drivers to “restart” their workweek by taking a minimum of 34 consecutive hours off-duty. This restart provision can be used only once during a seven-day period.

Truck drivers cannot work eight hours without taking at least a 30-minute break first. However, at any time during the eight-hour window, drivers can get a 30-minute break.

The current 11-hour daily driving limit remains in effect. FMCSA continues to conduct data analysis, and research to assess the risks associated with 11 consecutive hours of driving.

New Federal Rules on Hours Of Service

A summary of some of the major provisions covered in the July 1 compliance deadline:

  • 14-hour duty limit. A driver can be on duty 14 consecutive hours, after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours.
  • 11-hour driving limit. Drivers can only operate for up to 11 hours during a 14-consecutive-hour duty period.
  • 60/70-hour duty limit. Drivers cannot drive after being on duty 60 hours during any 7 consecutive days, OR they cannot drive after being on duty 70 hours during any eight consecutive days.
  • 34-hour restart. The 60- or 70-hour calculations can be “restarted” after at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Violators face hefty fines

Drivers and companies that largely ignore these new rules could face up penalties for each offense. Companies allowing drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by more than three hours could pay up to $11,000 per violation. Individual drivers could also face civil penalties—up to $2,750 for each offense.

The complete list of the provisions of the final rule is on the FMCSA Web site at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOSFinalRule.