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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Workforce

Hiring gap between large, small trucking companies poses challenges

The Journal Of Commerce William B. Cassidy November 30, 2021

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The number of employees at large truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the unadjusted number of long-haul truckload employees in September, including but not limited to drivers, was 15,700 short of its previous peak in August 2019. Long-haul LTL employment was just 7,400 short of its July 2019 peak.
Those are measurable shortfalls for long-haul trucking. The BLS numbers only give a partial picture of the total trucking workforce, however, as they don’t include owner-operators leased to truckload carriers and S corporations owned by small groups of people. Long-haul truckload employment tracked by the BLS totaled 511,000 jobs in September, while LTL employment reached 261,100 jobs.
In contrast, local or short-haul trucking companies are on a hiring binge. Local, general freight trucking companies have 14,500 more workers than they did in October 2019, their peak payroll month pre-pandemic. They added 17,900 jobs from January through October, while long-haul truckload carriers added 12,300 employees and LTL carriers added 5,600 workers. This shows a changing balance.

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Shippers/3PLs

Supply Chain Problems Have Small Retailers Gambling on Hoarding

The New York Times Sapna Maheshwari And Coral Murphy Marcos November 30, 2021

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Megan Searfoss has been hoarding sneakers in Connecticut.
Ms. Searfoss, the owner of two running stores in Darien and Ridgefield, Conn., would normally have about 3,000 pairs of shoes in stock ahead of the holiday season. But as she watched supply chain concerns in Vietnam mount this summer and into the fall, she secured a new storage facility and is now carrying around 4,100 pairs.
It’s a costly gamble for Ms. Searfoss, who said she was extended about $165,000 more than she would typically be in November because of worries about potential shortages.
“It’s placing a big bet and anticipating that what all the analysts are saying is correct,” Ms. Searfoss said. “Usually, we get through the New York City Marathon and then we stop buying shoes — we sell off what we have and go into January super, super lean. But we’re being told not to do that because there’s just not going to be any shoes.”

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Industry

Omicron is bound to disrupt supply chains. The question is, how bad will it be?

Market Watch Elisabeth Buchwald November 30, 2021

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics MCO, -1.67%, said that supply-chain disruptions due to omicron — or any other new variants that arise — will disrupt global supply chains “but likely not to the same degree as the delta wave.”
“Given the experience of delta, factories, ports, shippers and trucking companies know where the bottlenecks in the supply chain are most serious, and will thus be able to more gracefully work around them in the next wave of the virus,” Zandi, whose research is frequently cited by President Joe Biden, told MarketWatch.

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Key Supply-Chain Link Faces Perfect Storm This Holiday Shopping Season (Video 2:36M)

The Wall Street Journal December 1, 2021

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Warehouses in California’s Inland Empire are a crucial step in the U.S. supply chain. Low warehouse vacancy rates in the area combined with port delays are creating a perfect storm of challenges this holiday season.

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Pandemic Delivery Boom Fuels Demand for ‘Last Mile’ Space

The Wall Street Journal Will Parker November 30, 2021

The last mile in the e-commerce delivery process looks like a windfall for real-estate owners.
Industrial properties in general have enjoyed strong rent growth and record-low vacancies during the pandemic. An increase in online shopping has furthered the trend, creating greater demand for warehouses to hold ordered items.
Retailers especially covet space near highly populated areas where online orders can be loaded onto trucks and vans for local delivery to their final destinations. Retailers face a scarcity of final-stage warehouses near major cities; and as more companies promise same-day or even two-hour arrivals, such space is rising in demand and value.
More than half of U.S. industrial leasing in the third quarter involved users looking for space of less than 100,000 square feet, often a mark of a last-mile facility, according to a report from real-estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

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Trailer builds steady, but ramp-up still on hold

Fleet Owner November 30, 2021

“It’s obvious that market uncertainties are preventing OEMs from commencing the industry’s normal order season. Challenges of supply-chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, and material and component prices are forcing OEMs to proceed very cautiously,” said Frank Maly, director CV transportation analysis and research. “Initial reports indicate that October build rates were similar to September. So OEMs, while able to maintain production levels and manage backlog horizons, continue to be unable to ramp efforts to meet the extremely strong and growing fleet demand for additional trailers.”

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Technology/Innovation

CloudTrucks gets funding infusion to arm truckers with technology

The Journal Of Commerce Eric Johnson November 30, 2021

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CloudTrucks initially emerged as a virtual carrier, based on the notion that “all drivers want to be independent,” CloudTrucks CEO and co-founder Tobenna Arodiogbu told JOC.com in a September interview. The virtual carrier concept basically gives owner-operators a common technology platform to collectively compete with large truckload carriers in winning business from shippers. That capability remains, but the company has expanded its range of tools to allow independent drivers to remain completely independent but use modern, browser-based tools to manage their businesses.
The virtual carrier product allows drivers to avoid being employees, but get benefits such as liability insurance under CloudTrucks’ authority. It also enables them to tap into pools of capacity through partnerships CloudTrucks has established, including with DAT Freight and Analytics, brokerage software provider Parade, and digital freight brokers Uber Freight, Convoy, and Loadsmart.
Related: Freight Waves CloudTrucks secures $115M to ‘lower the barrier of entry’ for drivers

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How Will Autonomous Trucking Impact Carriers?

Truckinginfo.com Vesna Brajkovic November 30, 2021

“We're going to need drivers behind the wheel initially to make sure that we this collect data to convince us all that this system is fully safe,” Waymo’s Guo explains. “This is not going to be an overnight rollout, as much as my engineers would love it to be. This is really a gradual. Every route that we open is going to require a lot of data and that takes time. So really, we see this is very complementary to the current estimated 60,000 driver gap, and that might expand to 160,000 drivers in the next decade. It'll be gradual, and we’ll come in to fill in those gaps.”

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Government/Safety/Sustainability

New court rulings halt Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors, health workers

The Hill John Kruzel November 30, 2021

A pair of rulings by separate federal judges Tuesday temporarily halted parts of the Biden administration’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for certain workers.
One ruling, issued by a Louisiana-based federal judge, effectively blocked a vaccine mandate for health workers across the country at hospitals that receive federal funding.
A second ruling, by a Kentucky-based federal judge, paused the administration's vaccine mandate for federal contractors in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
The other Tuesday ruling — which concerned the federal contractor mandate — was narrower in scope, blocking the policy only as it applies to the three states that were plaintiffs in the case: Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee.
Related: Federal News Network Court orders halt to federal contractor vaccine mandate in 3 states

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