Data coming into the Tenstreet platform that hosts employment applications shows that while drivers are picking up the pace of applying, companies seem to be a little slow to respond.
Tenstreet operates a platform specific to trucking that puts carriers and drivers together for the recruiting and onboarding process.
The company launched a recurring blog feature that created a base number for activity during the week of February 24. That base will be set at 100 and the data behind it was drawn from the activity Tenstreet sees on its platform. It then looks at movements against that base to measure the pace of driver applications and driver hiring during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our goal in this blog is to provide insight into the driver market to help carriers make more informed recruiting and onboarding decisions during this uncertain time,” the company said in its launch.
The first publication of the blog was just published. It included the base case week of February 24 and the three subsequent weeks. In general, the data showed an active market for drivers seeking work and a possible lag in company activity to hire those drivers.
“We’ve had a lot of carriers stopping some of their activity because they had to work from home and there have been other changes and adaptations they had to make in their lifestyles,” Leah Kelley, marketing content and communications manager of Tenstreet said in an interview with FreightWaves. “They kind of dropped off.”
Looking at the data released by Tenstreet, under the category of “all apps received,” it sets a base of 100 for the week of February 24. In the week of March 16, that index rose to 127.1, meaning the Tenstreet platform received 27.1% more applications than it did three weeks earlier. The figures for the two intervening weeks were 105 and 102.5.
The category of All Apps Received include drivers applying multiple times. That means there’s a divergence between the All Apps Received category and the Drivers Applying category. The latter shows that the number of distinct drivers applying is not rising significantly over the February 24 base. The number has fluctuated around either side of 100 in the three weeks since then and was at 101.9 in the week of March 16.
There’s a difference between an app received and a full app received; a driver can start an application and not finish it. The number for Full Apps Received looks a little less shocking than the 27.1% increase in all apps. But still, it was at 103.9 in the week of March 16 and had been up to 111.2 in the week of March 2.
Tenstreet set aside three “problem states” where the incidence of COVID-19 has been particularly high – California, New York and Washington. Drivers actually were particularly active in those states, with the full app received index at 122.1, 124.2 and 107.9 in the three weeks after the February 24 base of 100.
“It’s exciting because it means drivers are looking for work,” Kelley said. “Once you see the application numbers go up, you’re going to see the hiring numbers go up.”
Kelly was asked why Tenstreet was undertaking this project. “We’re giving these to our recruiters and carriers to let them know, here are the numbers we are seeing so you can prepare to get things in order to start handling these and to make sure you have your trucks filled,” she said.
But so far, there’s not a lot of signs that carriers are rushing to hire. For example, the category of “apps acted on” was 27% in the base week of February 24. It was 21% in the week of March 16.
The number of enterprise users accessing the Tenstreet platform on February 24 set the base at 100; in the week of March 16, that index was down to 95.
Kelly concedes that any of these numbers could be a “fluke.” But she was still confident enough in the number of applicants that “if it starts trending like this, I think hiring will go up and I think onboarding will go up.”
Onboarding did rise during the four weeks, from the 100 base of February 24 to 105 in the March 16 week. But hiring was down to 90 in the week of March 16, having declined each of the three weeks reported by Tenstreet.
Kelly noted that the divergence of onboarding and hiring was “interesting” and without a clear explanation. “We could make all kinds of theories all day long,” she said. Conclusions on solid ground will be hard to make without more data. “It will be hard to tell, just like the virus itself,” Kelly said.