Today’s Pickup: capacity stays tight after trucking employment falls in April

 Containers at the Port of Long Beach. ( Photo: Shutterstock )
Containers at the Port of Long Beach. ( Photo: Shutterstock )

Good day,

After setting one record high after another in the early weeks of 2018, the weekly DAT Dry Van and Reefer Barometers have finally pulled back slightly, before stabilizing in a strong growth range. Meanwhile the weekly DAT Flatbed Barometer has continued to set one new record high after another. All three modes of truckload trucking are reflecting an environment in which demand exceeds capacity by a wide margin.

FreightWaves expects capacity to remain tight: the Wall Street Journal is reporting that trucking company payrolls dropped 5,500 employees in April, while railroads reduced their workforces by 800 jobs. “The pullback raises questions about the direction of capacity growth in a freight market marked by sky-high demand and tight constraints on roads and rails,” wrote Jennifer Smith for the WSJ. 

Did you know?

The DAT Broker Benchmarking report for March showed brokers moved 21% more loads and posted a 63% increase in total revenues for the month compared to March 2017. 


“The truth is that I’ve watched Amazon from the start and I think what Jeff Bezos has done is something close to a miracle, and the problem is if I think something is going to be a miracle I tend not to bet on it.”

-Warren Buffett, on missing out on Amazon, at last weekend’s Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting

In other news:

Truckers, railroads slashed payrolls in April

Trucking companies hit the brakes hard on hiring in April, halting a seven-month expansion in driver employment. (Wall Street Journal)

Nestle to pay Starbucks $7.15B in global coffee alliance

Swiss-based food giant Nestle will pay Starbucks $7.15 billion in cash for the rights to sell the U.S. coffee chain’s products around the world, tying a premium brand to Nestle’s global distribution muscle. (Reuters)

Romaine riddle: why the E. coli outbreak eludes food investigators

Scientists searching for a toxic strain of E. coli that has raced across 25 states, sickening 121 people and killing one, have been able to identify the general source as the Yuma, Ariz., growing region. But as the outbreak enters its second month, they still cannot find the contamination itself — it could be lurking in the area’s fields, water sources, harvesting equipment, processing plants or distribution centers. (New York Times)

Why there will be no trade war between the U.S. and China

Just as on other issues, behind the scenes Trump and Xi seem to be working together on trade. At first glance, that may sound ludicrous. (Hellenic Shipping News)

China steps up quarantine checks on U.S. apple, log imports

China’s main ports will step up quarantine checks on imports of apples and logs from the United States, and shipments found carrying disease or rot could be returned or destroyed, the Chinese customs agency said on Monday. (Reuters)

Final Thoughts:

This morning FreightWaves reported on ATRI’s Truck Parking Diary research, where commercial drivers provided detailed documentation of their challenges in looking for safe, available truck parking. Participating drivers recorded their parking experiences and issues over 14 days of driving, representing over 4,700 unique documented parking stops.

ATRI’s diary research also documented the amount of lost revenue time that drivers experience by parking earlier than they otherwise needed to, just to find parking. With an average of 56 minutes of revenue drive time sacrificed by drivers per day, the parking shortage effectively reduces an individual driver’s productivity by 9,300 revenue-earning miles a year, which equates to lost wages of $4,600 annually. The ATRI study also found that between the hours of 4 pm and 11:59 pm — when many drivers are ready to park for the evening — 63% of drivers are taking 15 minutes or more to look for parking.

Hammer down everyone!

Show More

John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.