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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Trucking

DAT: Contract rates catching up with spot rates

CCJ October 18, 2021

Spot and contract truckload rates hit new highs in September, according to DAT, as shippers grappled with historic surges of freight, constraints on equipment and drivers put pressure on capacity and the peak holiday shipping season got off to an early start.
Contract rates, fuel prices increased
The national average contract van rate was $2.85 per mile, up 3 cents compared to August and equal to the national average spot van rate. The contract reefer rate was $2.97 per mile, also up 3 cents month over month, while the average contract flatbed rate was unchanged at $3.30 per mile. The national average price of on-highway diesel rose 3 cents to $3.38 a gallon, increasing for the sixth straight month. The spot and contract rates reported here include a fuel surcharge, which was 36 cents per mile for van freight last month – 17 cents more than it was in September 2020.
“The dog days of summer for freight did not materialize this year. Instead, the combination of strong consumer demand, new and evolving supply chain bottlenecks and early proactive shipping for the holiday season kept demand for capacity at record highs,” said DAT Chief Scientist Chris Caplice.

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FTR Freight activity in the spot market sees solid growth in the latest week

FTR Transportation Intelligence October 18, 2021

Dry Van
• The Dry Van segment saw the sharpest gain of all segments, rising 9.3%. The index is about 34% below February’s spike but
about 160% above the pre-pandemic baseline.
• Current Level: 259.7 // Bottomed at 45.3 week ending 4/24/2020. Current high is 392.4 for week ending 2/26/2021.

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J.B. Hunt execs: Look for bottlenecks to get worse through year-end

Fleet Owner Geert De Lombaerde October 18, 2021

“The underlying cost of drivers and equipment is going to stay,” Chief Commercial Officer Shelly Simpson said on an Oct. 15 conference call. “We don’t see wages going down.”
Darren Field, president of J.B. Hunt’s intermodal division, told analysts and investors that it’s never been more difficult to attract and retain drivers and added that rail providers and others are competing for much of the same available talent. The trickiest factor in the labor equation, he said, is at customers’ warehouses, where shortages mean trailers are taking longer to unload and are further clogging up the system.

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Industry

Diesel Spikes 8.5¢ to $3.671 a Gallon

Transport Topics October 18, 2021

With Monday’s increase, diesel’s price has climbed 19.4 cents a gallon in the past two weeks and 26.5 cents in the past three. A gallon now costs $1.283 more than it did at this time in 2020.
The last time diesel cost at least as much as its current price was Nov. 10, 2014, when it was $3.677.
The average cost for a gallon of diesel rose in all 10 regions in EIA’s weekly survey, with the largest being 10.5 cents in California and smallest being 5.9 cents in the Rocky Mountain region.

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7 challenges lie ahead for the Port of LA to support 24/7 supply chains

Transport Dive Edwin Lopez October 18, 2021

"It's not a single lever we can pull today to open up all the gates," said Seroka. Still, the goal is to quickly transition to 24/7 operations with the use of data, port stakeholder relationships and federal government support.
Brokering conversations among stakeholders
A sea of private-sector stakeholders will have to be involved with any schedule transition. The federal government sees itself as a broker in those conversations rather than a regulator, Porcari said.
Seroka said the Port of Los Angeles works with at least 200,000 importers and exporters moving goods via roughly 18,000 truck drivers, over 100 trains and 20-plus shipping companies — in addition to the "10 new entrants" who in the last months began chartering their own vessels.
"We're going to continue to chip away with every meeting, every phone call, every container movement, develop processes and get more robust delivery," Seroka said.

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The Cost of Air Freight Soars in Rush to Speed Holiday Goods

Bloomberg Siddharth Philip October 19, 2021

As U.S. companies like Crocs, Nike and Levi Strauss pay premiums to import their goods on planes, the boom in air freight has been the sole bright spot for the global aviation industry as Covid-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns curb passenger travel.
But even as people slowly start flying again, spurred by rising vaccination rates, demand for air cargo continues to surge, driven by e-commerce and an ongoing global supply chain crisis on the ground.
Some experts warn that some demand for cargo-only planes could disappear as long-haul passenger aircraft return, restoring capacity to the system. But planemakers are banking on the cargo craze to continue to drive freighter demand.

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Supply chain gridlock dominates Sunday talk shows

Freight Waves Eric Kulisch October 19, 2021

Extended gate hours is “just one piece of a very complex puzzle where you’ve got the terminals, the rail piece, you’ve got the warehouses, the drivers. And we’re working on all of those angles,” Buttigieg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But let’s remember, these are private-sector systems. This is a capitalist country. Nobody wants the federal government to own or operate the stores, the warehouses, the trucks, or the ships, or the ports. Our role is to try to make sure we’re supporting those businesses and those workers who do.”
“Let’s also acknowledge we have some more profound issues in our economy. … If you look at the large employers of truck drivers, the annual rate of turnover is 90%. That tells us that there’s something deeper going on than any short-term fix is going to address. Truck drivers want to be paid. They want to be respected.
“Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and I have been speaking out about this. And if we’re not dealing with these deeper issues in our economy, just like we’ve got to deal with deep issues in our infrastructure, then, you know, these shorter-term measures are really not going to be enough. That’s why we have things like the infrastructure bill, like the Build Back Better plan that are really going to set up America for success in the long term,” the transportation secretary said on “Meet the Press.”

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Nemo: A driver’s in-cab companion

Fleet Owner Cristina Commendatore October 18, 2021

“Dave kept me awake while I was driving.” “Dave saved my life.” “I finally found a radio show I could listen to and work to at the same time.” “I’ve been listening to you since 1974.”
Those are just a handful of the messages that professional over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers have left for trucking radio legend Dave Nemo over the years.
For the past 50 years, Nemo has been a friend to professional truck drivers across the U.S. and Canada. Through back-and-forth quips, birth announcements, comedy, music, and personal phone calls, the unstated mandate throughout Nemo’s career—first working with The Road Dog Gang and now at RadioNemo on SiriusXM—has been to keep OTR drivers awake, informed, smiling, and, in essence, alive.

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Shippers/3PLs

Procter & Gamble to Raise Prices on More Staples

The Wall Street Journal Sharon Terlep October 19, 2021

Subscription-Based

Costs are rising faster than P&G forecast. P&G now expects to spend $2.1 billion more on transportation and raw materials such as pulp and resin for the fiscal year ending June 2022. The company in July predicted a $1.9 billion increase.
Mr. Schulten said the company’s higher spending is wide ranging, particularly as it works to ensure it has products in stock as consumers increasingly encounter sparse shelves at stores.
He said P&G is enlisting backup suppliers, changing up shipping routes to get around bottlenecks, reformulating products and, in some cases, limiting how much any one retailer can buy at a time to avoid stockpiling.
“To the consumer, it looks like we’re in good supply,” he said.

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Workforce

Amazon to hire 150,000 seasonal workers

Freight Waves Mark Solomon October 18, 2021

Amazon.com Inc. said Monday that it plans to hire 150,000 seasonal workers nationwide for the peak delivery season, bringing to 315,000 jobs that the Seattle-based e-tailer has made available over the past few months.
Wages start at $18 an hour for the seasonal positions, as well as sign-on bonuses of $3,000 and an additional $3 an hour in many locations, depending on the shifts that are worked, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) said.
Amazon already said it wants to fill 40,000 new corporate and IT jobs and 125,000 full- and part-time logistics and transportation positions. All of those positions involve year-round work.

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Government/Safety/Sustainability

FMCSA nominee promises “closer eye” on unsafe truckers

Logistics Management John Schulz October 18, 2021

Meeri Joshi said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is investigating how to strengthen its new entrant program and expand the scope of motor carrier investigations to target more at-risk behavior by the nation’s 3.5 million long-haul truckers.
“Motor carriers that have risky behavior need to be investigated, and when they come into the industry we need to have a closer eye on them,” Joshi said at the nomination hearing to make her the seventh administrator of the Department of Transportation agency established in 2000 and charged with truck safety issues.
Joshi, currently the agency’s deputy administrator, was pressed by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., about what he considers a lack of oversight by FMCSA in addressing heavy truck crashes.
On its website, FMCSA claims since it was established as a separate agency within the Department of Transportation in 2000, the number of lives lost in large truck and bus-related crashes has decreased 26 percent.
But it acknowledges that although these numbers represent significant progress, more than 4,000 people die each year in crashes involving large trucks and buses. Those fatalities have generally increased annually since 2009.

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Swift and thorough White House review of vaccine mandate is critical

The Hill Stuart Shapiro October 18, 2021

First, and most famously, OIRA will review the agency’s analysis of the underlying economic consequences of the regulation. The vaccine mandate is classified as an “economically significant” regulation meaning that it will have an impact on the economy of more than $100 million, and OSHA is therefore required to estimate the costs and benefits of the regulation. The analysts and economists at OIRA will ensure that this analysis is thorough and clear. In doing so, they will also work to ensure the regulation accomplishes its goals as cost-effectively as possible and is likely to withstand inevitable court challenges.

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