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Unemployment Drops to Four-Year Low, Trucking Adds Jobs

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Source: truckinginfo.com/channel/fleet-management/news/story/
2013/03/unemployment-drops-to-four-year-low-trucking-adds-jobs.aspx

March 11, 2013
By Evan Lockridge

The nation’s unemployment rate fell slightly in February according to the U.S. Labor Department.

It decreased from a 7.9% rate in January to 7.7% in February, as the nation’s non-farm payroll added 236,000 thousand jobs, pushing the rate to a four-year low. The increase was led by a pickup of jobs in the construction sector, which showed its strongest increase in hiring in six years.

The better overall rate was due to a combination of the unemployed finding work with the other half no longer looking for employment.

Trucking added the most jobs of any transportation sector in February, increasing by 5,600 jobs in February brining the new hiring level the past 12 months to 42,500 jobs.

The number may have been higher for last month, but some fleets executives at the recent meeting of the Truckload Carriers Association said they are seeing fewer driver applicants. The number of trucking jobs added reflects those only in the for-hire sector and not those with private fleets or trucking jobs in other fields such as construction.

Despite the pickup for trucking, total transportation jobs added fell for the third month in a row.

Despite the uptick in overall employment the number of jobs added is still below a monthly level of 250,000 that many economists say is needed to significantly cut the number of unemployed people.

President Obama warned Saturday that automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester, could reduce the overall job gains seen in February.

Source: truckinginfo.com/channel/fleet-management/news/story/2013/03/unemployment-drops-to-four-year-low-trucking-adds-jobs.aspx

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Legislative Report - 3.8.2013 - Military Education Funding Suspended for U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps

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Internal Memo from DoD to Service Branches Says to Consider Cutting Program Funding

Citing the “current fiscal challenges,” the U.S. Army (USA) announced that effective March 8, 2013 new U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) voluntary education Tuition Assistance (TA) enrollments will be suspended until “the fiscal situation matures.” Servicemembers who are currently enrolled and participating in courses approved for TA will not be impacted, however. This decision follows the March 2, 2013 announcement by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus that the U.S. Navy (USN) will cease new U.S. MarineCorps (USMC) enrollments in TA. According to today’s Air Force Times article DoD urges ‘significant’ tuition assistance cuts, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is contemplating a similar suspension of TA enrollments apparently in response to an internal DoD memo to the services, which told them to consider cutting funding for the program. These recommended cuts are a byproduct of sequestration, a process that triggers automatic, across-the-board cuts from most government departments and agencies, which went into effect on March 1, 2013 when Congress and the Administration were unable to reach agreement on deficit reduction legislation.

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Drop in Driver Applications, But Positive Signs on Economy, Freight, Rates

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Source: truckinginfo.com/news/story/2013/03/tca-fleet-panel-sees-drop-in-driver-applications-but-positive-signs-on-economy-freight-rates.aspx

The driver shortage is already intensifying, with the number of both new and experienced driver applicants down over the last couple of months, as economic signs lead to improved optimism about increases in freight and rates this year, according to a panel discussion of three major truckload executives Tuesday at the Truckload Carriers Conference annual convention in Las Vegas.

The session, titled "Repaving Truckload's Road to Success," was hosted by Lana Batts, co-president of Driver iQ and a former head of TCA, featured:

  • Dan England, chairman of C.R. England Inc.
  • Max Fuller, chairman and CEO of U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc.
  • Derek Leathers, president and chief operating officer, Werner Enterprises.

Driver Applications Dropping

The driver shortage situation "is going to be probably the worst situation we've seen," Fuller said. "If you look at the last year it's continued to tighten. In the last four weeks, we've seen number of applicants drop by 20% to 25%." Calls to other carriers confirmed similar trends, he said. "We think with housing improving, a number of drivers have left the industry to go into construction."

Leathers said while Werner hasn't seen that much of a drop, its applicant count has been down on both new and experienced drivers, at double digit levels, and it started at the end of last year.

As always when discussing the issue of the driver shortage, the issue of pay came up.

"We've been a TCA member 35 years," England pointed out, "And the first convention I went to we had a panel discussion on driver turnover. It has worsened, no question about it, but we have talked for so many years about trying to get more money for our drivers and I think we've largely failed."

Leathers said in conversations with shippers about the need to get rates up to pay drivers more, "I'd like to say we see a sense of urgency in their eyes," but that's not often the case. "You often hear that other carrier aren't telling them about need to raise driver wages. But when you ask them what they pay drivers in their own private fleets, it's almost universally 20% to 30% higher. We have those very uncomfortable dialogues and we push them on that perspective."

England says compared to what we were paying drivers in 1980, if you adjust for inflation, drivers aren't even making as much money as they were then, yet drivers today are faced with far more regulations and responsibilities.

"We've failed on that front and haven't succeeded in pushing through enough increases to pass on increased compensation to drivers, so we're trying to find ways to make the jobs we have better, more compatible with home life, get them home more often," he said.

Leathers, similarly, said Werner works to develop better pay packages that are more specific to the type of work drivers are doing, and to get them home more often.

Fuller and Leathers both said they are seeing longtime, experienced drivers throw up their hands and leave the business because they are fed up with the increasing number of regulations.

Hours of Service Uncertainty

One of those regulatory frustrations, of course, is the uncertainty over the new hours of service regulations scheduled to go into effect July 1, if a court challenge being heard between now and then doesn't affect the start date.

"We're planning on the impression that it may very well be implemented July 1," Leathers said. Werner has been running a portion of its fleet under the new rules and trying to determine what the impact will be. He is expecting a productivity hit in the high single digits or worse.

The good news, Leathers said, it that HOS "will be the last nail in the capacity coffin" and will give carriers more leverage to raise rates.

Looking ahead, the three were fairly optimistic.

"I think the next couple of years are going to be pretty exciting," Fuller said. "When you look at the truckload industry, we're really subject to the stocking, restocking, consumption that our country has. We've gone through the destocking cycle, and if you look at inventory to sales ratio, it's pretty low. You look at housing improving, unemployment improving, that's probably going to help the consumption side. I think in 2013 and 2014 we're all going to be a lot more excited about our industry and freight volumes."

England said there are some mixed signals out there. "If you look at year over year new truck sales, we've had 13 consecutive months of sales being down, and that obviously causes some alarm," he said. "However, if you look at new home sales, retail sales, consumer confidence, we're optimistic, and we're seeing some improvement in demand. It hasn't reflected itself in strong rate increase yet, but we're very optimistic."

"I think the market is tightening as we speak," Leathers added. "We're seeing more and more of that in conversations with customers."

Rates need to go up, Leathers said, because costs have gone up. "Even without a tonnage increase, this is a conversation we have to be having with our customers. When you look at new truck prices, we estimate on average you're purchasing those trucks at a 40% higher price. To not be out talking to customers about rates would be a difficult position to put your company in."

Fuller agreed. "I think you have to see rate increases. We've seen costs go up about 6% per year while rates have gone up about 3% per year the last couple of years. With capacity tightening the way we anticipate the rest of the year, we are going to see the ability to increase rates more so than at any point in the last three years."

Source: truckinginfo.com/news/story/2013/03/tca-fleet-panel-sees-drop-in-driver-applications-but-positive-signs-on-economy-freight-rates.aspx

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CDL Train the Trainer Class Announcement

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On behalf of Andrew Krajewski (MD), Chair, AAMVA Test Maintenance Subcommittee, AAMVA announces a Commercial Driver License (CDL) Train-the-Trainer Class scheduled for Monday, April 22, 2013 through Friday, April 26, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  
 
The class is designed to be a hands-on training class for lead examiners, or trainers, who conduct examiner and refresher training in their jurisdiction as required.  The training class will utilize the curriculum as published in the Certified Commercial Examiner (CCE) Instructor Manual developed by the AAMVA International Driver Licensing Examiner Certification Executive Board.  There is no tuition or registration fee for this training.  All travel, room and board expenses will be paid by AAMVA.
 
The session is 40 hours in length and the class size is limited to fourteen persons.  Nominees must have a thorough knowledge of the CDL program, current experience conducting the CDL Skills Tests; as well as experience training State Examiners or Third Party Examiners on CDL test administration.    
 
Please complete the Nominee Form for each individual being nominated and submit them to Karen Morton no later than Friday, March 15, 2013, as class sizes are limited.
Due to class size limitations, priority will be given to nominees from jurisdictions that implemented the 2005 CDL Testing System after July 1, 2012; or who will be implementing the test system by July 1, 2014.  
 
NOTE:  The preferred method of submission is via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  If you are unable to do so, nominations may be faxed to (703) 908-5890.

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FMCSA Announces MCSAC Appointments

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced the appointment of a new chairman, vice chairman and five additional members to its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee.

Stephen C. Owings is the first representative from the safety advocacy community to be named chairman of the MCSAC. Owings and his wife, Susan, founded Road Safe America in 2003 in honor of their son, Cullum, who was tragically killed in 2002 when struck by a tractor-trailer.

Owings replaces David Parker of Great West Casualty Co. as chairman. Parker has served as MCSAC chairman since its inception in 2007.

Lt. Col. Scott G. Hernandez of the Colorado State Patrol was appointed vice chairman. Hernandez is the interim chief of the Colorado State Patrol and will become MCSAC chairman upon the conclusion of Owings’s two-year term.

Established by Congress in 2006, the MCSAC is charged with providing information, advice and recommendations to FMCSA on safety programs and regulations for large trucks and commercial buses. The MCSAC is composed of stakeholders from the motor carrier safety advocacy, safety enforcement, labor and industry communities.

The five new MCSAC members who will begin their terms on April 1, 2013, are:

  • Gary Catapano, senior vice president of safety, First Student Inc.
  • Bruce Hamilton, president, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1700
  • Robert Mills, police officer, Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department
  • Donald Osterberg, senior vice president of safety and security, Schneider National Inc.
  • Tami Friedrich Trakh, board member, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways
  • Jennifer Tierney, board member, CRASH, (Voting Alternate Member)

Additionally, Administrator Anne Ferro reappointed ten members to the committee. They are:

  • LaMont Byrd, director of health and safety, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • Norman (Bill) Dofflemyer, captain, Maryland State Police
  • Scott Hernandez, interim chief, Colorado State Patrol
  • John Lannen, executive director, Truck Safety Coalition
  • Jane Mathis, member, board of directors, Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.)
  • Stephen C. Owings, president, Road Safe America
  • Pete Pantuso, president and chief executive officer, American Bus Association
  • David Parker, senior legal counsel, Great West Casualty Co.
  • Danny Schnautz, operations manager, Clark Freight Lines, Inc.
  • Todd Spencer, executive vice president, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

With these appointments, the committee now has its full complement of 20 members.

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Where Are the Truck Drivers?

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CNN | Added on July 15, 2012

The trucking industry is having difficulty finding drivers. CNN's Athena Jones reports

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CSA Update: Improve Your Vehicle Maintenance Today with the Safety Management Cycle!

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Last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a set of documents that detail the Agency’s signature investigative tool: the Safety Management Cycle (SMC). With an SMC tailored to each Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC), these resources provide carriers and drivers with a tool to help them evaluate their safety practices and identify and address safety and compliance issues.

There are two SMC resources dedicated to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC: one that focuses on cargo securement and another focusing on inspection, repair, and maintenance. By examining the six Safety Management Processes that make up the SMC—from defining policies and procedures and clarifying roles and responsibilities to taking meaningful action—carriers and drivers can gain a better understanding of the potential gaps in current safety practices and identify ways to improve. 

For example, who is responsible for informing a manager or mechanic if a safety-related problem is discovered or repairs are necessary before operating a vehicle? And, does the company have a system to ensure this communication happens and vehicles are repaired before being driven? Explore the Vehicle Maintenance SMC resources on the CSA Website’s SMC webpage to make sure you and your company have addressed these and many other important questions to ensure every vehicle is safe before it hits the road. Also make sure you review the safety regulations at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrguide.aspx.