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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Trucking

US truck freight recession is here, but not to stay: SMC3

The Journal Of Commerce William B. Cassidy January 23, 2023

Subscription-Based

US manufacturers still need inventory, said Jason Bergman, chief commercial officer of less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier Yellow. “Aerospace, automotive, and defense manufacturers are chronically under their normal inventory levels, and as soon as raw materials become available, they’ll be buying inventory like you wouldn’t believe,” Bergman said. “They’re sitting on orders right now.”
US industrial production dropped 0.7 percent month to month in December, while manufacturing output fell 1.3 percent, according to the US Federal Reserve System. Manufacturing output dropped 0.5 percent year over year.
LTL carriers traditionally have a more industrial freight mix than their large truckload counterparts, and Bergman believes LTL freight will rebound later in the year. In addition, “we’ll see the non-residential construction piece of the market get stronger in the second half,” he said.

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Small Package-Delivery Companies Grow as Businesses Seek Alternatives to UPS, FedEx

The Wall Street Journal Esther Fung January 23, 2023

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Smaller parcel carriers made big gains during the pandemic handling packages that the larger players couldn’t deliver. Some want to get bigger.
Regional shipping companies across the U.S. are expanding their operations to pick up business from bigger rivals, seeking to capitalize on labor uncertainty at United Parcel Service Inc., higher rates charged by UPS UPS 1.32%increase; green up pointing triangle and FedEx Corp. FDX 2.28%increase; green up pointing triangle and growing reluctance among merchants to rely on a single carrier.
The push comes as the e-commerce boom that fueled carriers’ growth has faded and inflation-weary shoppers begin to pull back on purchases. Some small carriers say that despite the slowdown, they see an opportunity to build on the gains they made during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Industry

US inventory drawdown key to trans-Pacific volume recovery: analyst

The Journal Of Commerce Jason Miller January 23, 2023

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Despite the fact these wholesale sectors currently have elevated inventories-to-sales ratios, the good news is that US Census Bureau data on inflation adjusted wholesale trade sales indicates sales remain robust in each of these sectors. For example, inflation adjusted sales for hardware and HVAC wholesalers are ~5 percent above their 2019 levels, whereas furniture wholesalers are still selling 20 percent more products today than in 2019.
Household appliance and electrical products wholesalers currently have sales 25 percent above their 2019 levels. Apparel wholesalers appear in a weaker position, with demand even with 2019 levels. The fact inflation adjusted sales do not appear poised for sharp declines suggests that these wholesalers, with a few months of constrained ordering, should be able to right the proverbial inventory ship as we move into the second half of 2023.

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Diesel Reverses Course, Rises 8¢ to $4.604 a Gallon

Transport Topics January 23, 2023

• The average price for a gallon of diesel had dropped in nine of the past 10 weeks, totaling 83.3 cents. The only increase in that time was a 4.6-cent gain three weeks ago.
• A gallon of diesel now costs 82.4 cents more than it did at this time in 2022.
• Trucking’s main fuel rose in all 10 regions in EIA’s weekly survey, ranging from a high of 9.9 cents in the Midwest to seven-tenths of a cent in the Rocky Mountain area.

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Workforce

There’s More Than One Way up with Driver Pay

Heavy Duty Trucking January 23, 2023

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been actively pushing solutions to alleviate the driver dilemma. Initiatives range from a younger-driver apprenticeship program to a new Women of Trucking Advisory Board committed to recruiting, retaining, and supporting female commercial motor vehicle drivers.
Those efforts are long-term strategies that, while benefiting many current and new drivers right now, hold a bigger promise of increasing the number of CDL holders over time.
But nothing grabs any worker’s attention more than seeing the size of their paychecks increase. That’s why FMCSA is also on top of raising driver pay, which can deliver an almost immediate positive impact for carriers. To that end, the agency has begun a study of how driver compensation can affect both driver retention and safety.
The agency said it will “study the impacts of various driver compensation methods on overall safety and retention rates through expert briefings, data gathering, and possibly case studies or interviews with relevant industry and academic experts.”

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