The Roemer Report: September 2020
September’s for Truckers and so is the nation: Celebrating Trucker Appreciation Week
With Trump’s economy adding 1.8 million jobs in July and beating expectations for the third month in a row, it’s clear his policies are capable of sustaining growth in the face of serious economic headwinds -- including one of the sharpest, nastiest and perhaps most avoidable recessions in modern economic history.
October surprise in September
To the surprise and astonishment of many, the American economy is motoring along more robustly than perhaps even the most optimistic had hoped for given the circumstances. What is no surprise is how essential the trucking industry’s role has been in delivering a healthy portion of the nation’s growing economic recovery.
Thank God for Truckers
President Trump and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elain Chao both agree: “Thank God for truckers.” And we at The Roemer Report couldn’t agree more. Because of the amazing role truckers have played throughout 2020, the observance of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 13-19, is even more significant, according to American Trucking Associations (ATA).
Covering National Truck Drive Week our friends at Trucker.com report that there are about 3.5 million men and women serving as professional drivers and with two goals in mind: delivering goods reliably, securely, but also keeping the nation’s highways safe.
Showing the love
ATA says Americans in all 50 states are showing their love, taking extraordinary steps to show their appreciation for the important work that professional truck drivers have done to navigate us well past the Wuhan virus’ worst effects.
In appreciation of the nation’s truckers, Trucker.com notes Loves Travel Stops & Country Stores, Pilot Flying J and TravelCenters of America are all offering special deals and giveaways throughout the month of September.
Showing strength too
Transport Topics noted September 3rd that “more than six months into the COVID-19 pandemic the trucking industry’s health is stronger than the U.S. economy, as segments used in final-mile delivery, e-commerce, and deliveries to grocery stores and hospitals thrive.”
Although the economy still has a ways to go Transport Topics notes economists say shifts in normal schedules in areas ranging from construction to manufacturing to retail are bolstering trucking of late.
That list of economists include Stephen Burks, economics professor at the University of Minnesota-Morris who was an LTL truck driver in the 1980s. He explained to Transport Topics that “Some parts of trucking have come back much harder than anyone expected, much faster. They’re cooking,” Burks said. “But it’s uneven.”
Stifel Global Transportation and Logistics Equity Managing Director David Ross agrees, finding the July results were “better than expected” in the trucking market. Transport Topics also reports the DAT Truckload Volume Index, a measure of dry van, refrigerated and flatbed loads moved by truckload carriers, was 1383, up 3.7% in July and up 2.1% month-to-month. The report said the index bucked seasonal trends.
A look at freight trends from the ATA
ATA’s Chief Economist Bob Costello told Transport Topics the economy is shifting from consumers spending money on services, such as hotels and restaurants, to spending on tangible goods. A quick look at home remodeling and RV spending supports the assertion.
Costello says people stuck at home during the pandemic are using the time to remodel, fix and redecorate. For trucking, this is good news. He explains that consumers are finding it hard to spend money on services and are buying things like houses instead, noting an uptick in housing starts that is helping trucking.
Truck labor stats strengthening too
Just prior to Labor Day, the Journal of Commerce reported more truck drivers went back to work in August, pushing non-seasonally adjusted trucking employment numbers up 8,800 for the month as demand for trucking services increased, according to data released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data, says Journal of Commerce reveal trucking employment numbers are heading in a better direction and may provide some capacity relief to shippers, even if it might take some time to realize such relief.
The report finds seasonally adjusted trucking payroll numbers climbed by 10,000. Painfully the report also notes the adjustments are meant to minimize the impact of regular seasonal events, but now are less meaningful amid the worst economic recession since the 1930s.
Thanks from a grateful nation once again
As we honor truckers this week and throughout September let’s all remember how vital a role they play and how much their contribution meant – especially during tough and unprecedented times. Thank God for Truckers? Amen.