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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Friday, October 14, 2022


Cass Transportation Index Report September 2022

Cass Information Systems October 13, 2022

Cass Freight Index - Expenditures
The expenditures component of the Cass Freight Index, which measures the total amount spent on freight, rose 0.3% m/m in September after a 1.9% m/m increase in August. Against a shipment decrease of 2.9% m/m in September, we can infer that rates overall were up 3.3% (see our inferred rates data series below). The increase in rates m/m appears mainly due to mix changes and seasonality.
• The expenditures index was still 21% higher than year-ago levels in September, accelerating slightly from 28% in August.
• On an SA basis, expenditures fell 1.9% m/m in September, with shipments up 5.5% m/m and rates down 2.4%.
This index includes changes in fuel, modal mix, intramodal mix, and accessorial charges.
Simply following normal seasonality from here, this index is on track for a 23% increase in 2022 and would turn down on a y/y basis next February.

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For-Hire Trucking Ton-Mile Index Analysis

LinkedIn Dr. Jason Miller October 13, 2022

Implication: I continually read many folks make the claim that trucking freight is a leading economic indicator. Though I tend to disagree since trucking activity represents derived demand from manufacturing, mining, wholesaling, retailing, and warehousing, the TTMI data for August make clear that the U.S. economy is almost assuredly not in a recession. You don’t have year-over-year ton-mile increases of 3% during a recession. Also, in 2019, ton-miles declined by ~1% from 2018 levels, which is consistent with a true freight recession. We are not in one of those (yet).

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Trucking giving mixed signals on clues to possible economic slowdown

Logistics Management John D. Schulz October 13, 2022

Pitt Ohio Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Geoffrey Muessig said that it’s true LTL freight demand softened in the third quarter and that LTL demand in 2022 is not quite as strong as it was in 2021.
“However, it needs to be noted that LTL carriers experienced red hot demand for their services in 2021,” Muessig told LM. “We’re busy and demand for our LTL service is strong in 2022. Most of our LTL drivers continue to work many overtime hours each week since the driver availability is still restricted.”
As for economic expectations in 2023, Muessig said they “are all over the board.” Some shippers expect business levels to remain strong, he said, while others are planning for a shallow drop in shipment count.
“Very few of our shippers have voiced concern about a steep recession to me,” Muessig said.

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Speed limiter proposal eyes June 2023 unveiling

Land Line Mark Schremmer October 12, 2022

By next summer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expects to unveil a proposal requiring most commercial motor vehicles to use speed limiters.
In the U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest report on significant rulemakings, the agency projects that a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking will be published in the Federal Register by June 30. Once the notice is published, the public will have another opportunity to comment.
“FMCSA intends to proceed with a motor carrier-based speed limiter rulemaking,” the agency wrote in the report.

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Trucking Alliance calls hair testing opposition ‘disappointing’; OOIDA president responds

Land Line Ryan Witkowski October 13, 2022

The debate over the proposed inclusion of positive hair testing results in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has reached a new level of contention.
On Aug. 24, the Trucking Alliance asked FMCSA to amend regulations to allow hair testing results to be included in the Clearinghouse. Under the proposed amendment, carriers with knowledge of a positive hair test would be required to report the results to the Clearinghouse.
A 30-day comment period was given to the proposal. During that time, several trucking organizations – including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association – filed comments opposing the amendment.
“The Clearinghouse should not accept the results of any hair follicle testing, considering the inconsistencies and inaccuracies involved,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer.
Additionally, the Sikh Coalition and the North American Punjabi Trucking Association have voiced their opposition, citing faith-based concerns regarding the removal of hair.

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ATA’s Chris Spear: 2022 Has Brought Trucking Major Victories

Transport Topics Dan Ronan October 13, 2022

“We’ve probably had more tier one wins this year than ever before,” Spear said during an interview with Transport Topics in advance of ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition, set for Oct. 22-25 in San Diego. Specifically, he mentioned a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court that blocked enactment of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that would have applied to trucking companies, as well as a federal court victory that ruled a truck-only tolling plan in Rhode Island was unconstitutional.

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Trucking Weighs In on Independent Contractor Proposal

Transport Topics Eric Miller October 13, 2022

“The NPRM jettisons the Trump regulation’s emphasis on two core factors — nature and degree of control over the work and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss — and proposes to weigh all six of its proposed factors more equally,” said a Scopelitis law alert. “The NPRM also eliminates the Trump regulation’s emphasis on actual practice in favor of also weighing theoretical possibility. And in a break from the weight of judicial precedent, the NPRM explains that all instances of control should be considered, even if deriving from contractual requirements, quality control or safety standards, or legal obligations.”

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Trans-Pac capacity reductions too little, too late: analysts

The Journal of Commerce Bill Mongelluzzo October 13, 2022


Including blanks, trans-Pacific carriers are deploying capacity totaling 1.32 million TEU for the month of October, down slightly from 1.35 million TEU in October 2021, according to Sea-Intelligence data. “With the blank sailings announced thus far, the carriers have merely reduced capacity down to the same level as we saw last year,” Murphy said.
The reality of the situation in the trans-Pacific today is that the underlying capacity levels were so elevated throughout 2021 and even in early 2022 that carriers have only been able to reduce capacity levels to where they were in 2019, the last “normal” year in the trade, he said.

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More women are entering the diesel tech field, but not fast enough to meet demand

CCJ Angel Coker October 13, 2022

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 293,200 people were employed as bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists (not including diesel techs in other industries) in 2021, but just over 1% of those were women.

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Driver Recruitment Strong Despite Uncertain Economy

Transport Topics Connor D. Wolf October 13, 2022

“What this means is that capacity is not exiting the market due to failures or due to bankruptcies, but instead it’s just a relocation of capacity from owner-operators to fleet,” Danaf said. “A lot of these larger fleets are not operating in the spot market. They’re operating in the contract market and that’s why they are not seeing any reduction in demand really. They’re seeing the opposite, which is an increase in demand this year. That’s why they’re continuing to hire drivers.”

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