Transports Lead Stock Rise as Indexes Set New Records

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By Jonathan S. Reiskin, Associate News Editor

This story appears in the March. 18 print edition of Transport Topics.

Trucking and transportation stock indexes have increased more rapidly over the past six months than those for the broad market, with most of the growth coming since the start of 2013.

While the Dow Jones industrial average has gained 9% in value to reach a record high in the six months ended March 11 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 has grown 8.9%, the transportation average has rallied 20.6% and the S&P trucking roster surged 24.3%.

Within the transportation average, UPS Inc. and FedEx Corp. contributed to the increase, as did four freight railroads and four trucking companies.

C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. and Expeditors International of Washington Inc. — the two non-asset-based logistics companies on the transportation average — posted some recent declines, however, after earlier gains.

Company executives and analysts offered no consensus on the meaning behind the gains. Optimists said the increases demonstrate a judgment by investors that trucking earnings will improve this year. Skeptics said trucking stocks are rising off a very low base period, and that well-run companies are benefiting from tight freight-hauling supply rather than a boom in demand for services.

“2013 is poised to be the ‘Year of Transports,’ ” analyst Peter Nesvold wrote to clients of Jefferies & Co. His confidence in the industry’s outlook has firmed as the year has progressed.

Three recent data points suggesting improvement, Nesvold said, are the jump up in January truck tonnage to a record high, the year-over-year gain in diesel consumption and the increase in airfreight for FedEx and UPS.

Nesvold told investors that rallies in freight-transportation stocks usually start in trucking.

“As go trucks, so go transports,” he said.

Tom Kretsinger Jr., president of American Central Transport, said he is optimistic based on the results of his privately held business based in Liberty, Mo., and conversations at the recent Truckload Carriers Association meeting where he was elected chairman... Continue reading (Transport Topics Account Required)

Legislative Report - 3.16.2013 - House Republicans FY 2014 Budget Proposal

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House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his chamber’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal entitled "The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal” that cuts spending by $5.7 trillion, reduces the top tax rate to 25 percent, balances the budget within 10 years and moves to a fair value accounting system to show the true costs of the federal loan programs.  
According to a fact sheet, the proposal would:

  • Cut wasteful spending;
  • Protect and strengthen important priorities like Medicare and national security;
  • Reform welfare programs like Medicaid so they can deliver on their promise;
  • Simplify the tax code by consolidating the current seven individual-income-tax brackets into two brackets with a first bracket of 10 percent;
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax; and
  • Reform the budget process, among other proposals.

Legislative Report - 3.16.2013 - House passed H.R. 803 – The SKILLS Act

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On Friday March 15 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 803 – The Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 by a vote of 215-202.
The bill proposes the consolidation of 35 programs used in support of job training into a single Workforce Investment Fund, places a premium on job education and training as the means to provide greater access to the workforce, and revises the responsibilities of the state and local Workforce Investment Boards and eliminates the mandatory inclusion on the WIBs of community colleges representation, labor representation, and others – replacing these individuals with a required 2/3 majority of the new boards to be comprised of business and industry representation.

CSA Update: Safety Management Cycle for Unsafe Driving BASIC Now Available!

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Unsafe driving includes risky behavior such as speeding, improper lane change, aggressive driving, and other types of  dangerous activity. Safe driving starts with a safe driver. The Safety Management Cycle (SMC) for the Unsafe Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) helps carriers and drivers evaluate existing processes—including policies and procedures, training and communication, and meaningful action, among others—to determine where gaps may exist that either encourage unsafe driving behavior or leave this behavior unaddressed. 

For example, does the company have a policy that prohibits dispatchers from assigning drivers a load that cannot be completed without speeding? Take a look at the SMC for the Unsafe Driving BASIC today and make sure all necessary processes, management, and controls are in place to prevent and address unsafe driving practices. Also, make sure you review the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to ensure you operate in full compliance of all current safety standards.

Jobs for Truck Drivers Grow 20%

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Over the past 90 days, more than 230,000 jobs were advertised online for truck drivers in the United States, according to Wanted Analytics, a source of real-time business intelligence for the talent marketplace. As demand for goods increases, more truck drivers will be needed to keep freight and the supply chain moving. Hiring for this occupation has increased more than 20% compared to the same 90-day period in 2012.

The metropolitan areas with the most demand for Truck Drivers during the past 90 days were New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Houston.

Employers in the New York metro area not only placed the most job ads of any U.S. area, but also saw one of the highest year-over-year increases in demand. More than 6,600 ads were available online in the past 90 days, representing a 41% growth compared to the same time period last year. Of these five metro areas, Dallas had the second highest growth, up 34% from 2012.

As hiring demand for truck drivers continues, it is likely to become increasingly difficult to source enough potential candidates. However, conditions will depend on each position and the specific skills required in the job.

According to the Hiring Scale, Drivers are likely to be the most difficult-to-recruit in Bismarck, N.D., Hinesville, Ga., and Bowling Green, Ky.

The Hiring Scale scores truck drivers as a 93 (out of a possible 99, where 99 would represent the most difficult situation). With increased competition from employers to attract candidates, recruiters and hiring managers are likely to also experience a longer time-to-fill. For example, the average posting period for a truck driver ad in Bowling Green, Ky., is more than 8 weeks. The national average is about 6.5 weeks.

On the other hand, the Hiring Scale also shows that truck drivers are likely to be the least difficult to recruit in Salisbury, Md., Morristown, Tenn. , and Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla. These three cities score a 5 on the Hiring Scale and average a 4.5 week posting period, meaning that employers are likely to fill jobs faster and with less difficulty.

The Hiring Scale measures conditions in local job markets by comparing hiring demand and labor supply. The Hiring Scale is part of the Wanted Analytics platform that offers business intelligence for the talent marketplace.


Legislative Report - 3.11.2013 - Congressman Mullin (OK-2) is Submitting Bill - Preserving Jobs in the 5 Oilfield

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Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) is submitting bill  “Preserving Jobs in the 5 Oilfield Act of 2013” on the floor on Monday, March 11, 2013.

“Sand and water are critical components of drilling operations within the oil and gas industry.  Subsequently, those who transport these elements to and from a well site are imperative to keeping production on schedule and operating safely, often on a moment’s notice. These drivers often have extended periods of down time waiting in the queue where they can sleep, eat, and watch TV.  Due to this downtime, water and sand drivers for over 50 years did not have to record this “waiting time” against their hours of “on duty” driving time.

On June 6, 2012, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued regulatory guidance removing this long standing precedent, stating that these drivers would no longer qualify for the waiting time exemption.

FMCSA’s action has resulted in an increase of traffic coming in and out of well sites, causing added wear and tear to the roads.  An increase in the number of trucks needed to do the work put a sudden, extra demand on the number of drivers needed.  This has led to the use of less qualified drivers just to keep operations going.  In turn, industry has experienced a 225% jump in payroll costs as well as an increase in insurance premiums, fuel costs and transportation costs.

Unemployment Drops to Four-Year Low, Trucking Adds Jobs

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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.