Hiring Concerns Take Backseat to Input Costs; FMCSA Mulls ELD Exemption

March 19, 2024

Hiring Concerns Take Backseat to Input Costs; FMCSA Mulls ELD Exemption


Continental Logistics

The most recent Labor Market Outlook Report by Trucking HR Canada (THRC) shows employers are significantly less worried about employee retention in 2023 than they were in 2021.

The report asked 376 employers questions regarding their outlook and concerns over the next six months and compared the responses to the 2021 data.

In 2021, 80% of employers said recruiting drivers would be extremely challenging or difficult. In its latest report, the concern dropped to 49%.

The industry's changes don’t stop there: Federal regulators are considering an ELD exemption request from an owner/operator who says the system is only practical for companies with multiple CMVs.

In other news, spot freight volume reached an all-time high in February, the American Trucking Association announced its opposition to Julie Su’s renomination to lead the Department of Labor, and Walmart has overhauled its thinking of intermodal shipping, joining forces with J.B. Hunt Transport.

THRC Report: Increasing Input Costs tops Employers’ Concerns

For the first time in a decade, increasing input costs replace driver shortage as the top concern for employers.

The survey is part of the Trucking HR Canada (THRC) 2024-2030 labor market outlook report that asked employers what their biggest concerns are over the next six months. Today’s Trucking released key points of the report on March 5, including that THRC is projecting 40,400 available jobs could be vacant in 2030 unless the ongoing efforts and support continue. Nearly 10,800 of the vacancies are projected to be truck-driving jobs.

In 2021, 56% of the people who responded to the survey said labor shortage for truck drivers was their biggest concern. In 2023, that number fell to 17%.

Concern over the rising cost of inputs grew from 19% in 2021 to 33% in 2023, making it the top concern of the companies surveyed.

Read more about the report.

Federal Regulators Mull Driver/Owner ELD Exemption Request

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering an owner/operator's request to waive his Electronic Logging Device (ELD) requirements until Oct. 9.

In his request, Albert Ibraimi, from the Chicago area, stated that buying an ELD “is virtually only practical for companies that have multiple CMVs.”

The exemption request was published in a Feb. 29 FreightWaves article.

The request said the owner is a one-man operation with limited funds and that the money invested in an ELD would be better served by investing in safety standards and a safety management control system.

In a related report, the administration has acknowledged that it cannot confirm whether the ELD mandate is improving safety. The report is based on the Electronic Oversight Report, released in February.

Spot Freight Volumes Reach All-Time High; Reefer Rates Increase

Citing a weather-related bump in demand for truckload capacity, spot freight volumes climbed to an all-time high in January, according to a report from DAT Freight & Analytics. All three equipment types in the DAT Truckload Volume Index increased from December:

  • Van ratio – 2.7, up from 1.9 in December
  • Reefer ratio – 4.1, up from 2.6
  • Flatbed ratio – 8.3, up from 5.1

Ken Adamo, DAT Chief of Analytics, told The Packer, “Winter weather increased the need for trucks at a time when shippers were moving holiday returns and springtime retail goods through supply chains, and for-hire carriers were rejecting a higher percentage of contracted loads.”

The report also showed that demand for trucks on the spot marked raised broker-to-carrier rates, with the reefer rate jumping 10 cents in January from December to $2.57 a mile. Flatbeds rose 6 cents to $2.47 a mile, while contracted fan and reefer freight rates were unchanged at $2.49 and $2.57 per mile, respectively.

Read more about the best practices for reefer transportation.

ATA: Su Renomination a ‘Huge Red Flag’ for Trucking Industry

The American Trucking Association, along with congressional Republicans, again voiced opposition to Julie Su’s nomination by the Biden Administration to become the Labor Secretary.

Concerns were first voiced last year when Su was named Acting Labor Secretary by the administration.

The ATA said it staunchly opposes the White House’s support of Su for the Labor Department’s top post, with ATA President Chris Spear stating on Feb. 27: “No matter how many times she’s renominated, Julie Su’s record remains a huge red flag for our industry and any senator concerned about radical policies from California becoming federal law.”

Much of the concern over Su comes from her finalizing the independent contractor rule as acting secretary. Opponents of the rule say it undermines the livelihoods of 350,000 professional truck drivers across the country who choose to run their own small businesses.

LMI Grows in Back-to-Back Months in All 8 Components

For the second consecutive month, transportation prices in all eight subcomponents of the Logistics Managers Index have grown.

The February data was released in a supply chain report released on March 5. Industry analysts said the rate of growth in transportation capacity was also higher, meaning a meaningful recovery in the freight cycle has not started.

The report also shows that rising inventories are keeping warehouse metrics tight. While the warehouse industry is still in expansion territory, the level of growth declined in February, the third straight month it has slowed.

Walmart Sells Its Intermodal Assets To J.B. Hunt Transport

In a deal announced on Feb. 22, Walmart has sold its intermodal assets to J.B. Transport  Services and also entered into a multi-year intermodal service agreement with the company.

The companies have worked together for decades.

The arrangement helps J.B. Hunt’s strategy to grow its intermodal fleet to 150,000 containers over the next three years or earlier as part of its partnership with BNSF. According to its latest earnings release, J.B. Hunt had 118,171 containers at the end of Q4 in 2023.

The length of the intermodal service agreement was not disclosed, and both parties declined to reveal the number of intermodal assets included in the agreement.

CEO Suggests Freight Recession Could End in 2024

Speaking at FreightWaves’ virtual 3PL summit, Echo Global Logistics CEO Doug Waggoner said he believes the freight market has bottomed out, shed excess trucking capacity, and could stabilize by the end of the year.

Waggoner was the keynote speaker for the March 6 event.

“The number of trucks is declining, so not only the number of carriers, but the number of trucks in the market,” Waggoner said. “I think those are all good indicators for us to see that the excess supply of capacity is coming back in line with demand.”

Waggoner said Echo had about a 10% sequential volume growth in January, sparking optimism.

Read more about freight solutions for any market condition.

Continental Logistics: The Right Network to Keep Freight Moving

As the shipping industry considers input costs, driver availability, and other problems outlined in the latest THRC Labor Market Outlook report, Continental Logistics continues to ease its clients' concerns.

Whether it is reefer, flatbed, transloading, intermodal, or any other service, we keep the supply chain flowing smoothly by using our well-vetted, reputable, and experienced network of partners around the globe.

Our partnerships include some of the largest cargo owners and freight forwarders in the world, enabling us to provide the most comprehensive and flexible import and export container drayage solutions.

Contact Continental Logistics to learn more.

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