“It is my favorite time of year” has been a common remark I have heard during many conversations with members this fall. For me, it brings back great memories of growing up in upstate New York. The change of seasons, cooler temperatures, the anticipation of reflection, and the holidays ahead. With many having endured tremendous challenges on all levels over the last six months, this time also reminds me to be thankful for what we all have in our lives.
I am writing you with a renewed and encouraging spirit. Who would have thought back in March that we would be where we are now?
At the end of March, the future of our economy with COVID-19 looked dire, and so did life as we knew it. The Dow Jones average had declined 38.4% from an all-time high in mid-February and the NASDAQ was down 32.5%. Unemployment looked as if it was headed toward 20% with many Americans out of work. The gross domestic product (GDP) was forecasted to decline by 10-14% or more.
In the ensuing months, COVID-19 was digging in as we saw many people globally succumbing to the virus. It shuttered cities, communities, businesses, and economies with no end in sight. Essential workers and businesses faced the front lines with courage, relentless determination, and selflessness. Our drivers and supporting teams led the charge. Trucking leadership at all levels cleared the way so we as an industry could prevail and keep the supply chains and our economy moving forward.
As of this writing from their March lows: The Dow Jones average is up 56.47% and the NASDAQ is up 77.15% (above its pre-COVID-19 all-time high) at 11,747. Unemployment at the end of September was 7.9%, with 11.4 of the 22.1 million jobs lost having been recovered. GDP forecast calls for -4.6% annual growth for 2020 with double-digit growth in Q3 and Q4. To date, more than 128 million COVID-19 tests have been administered in the U.S.
Demand for goods in this country is 6% higher than it was prior to the pandemic. Dry van spot rates have risen for 21 consecutive weeks, 45% higher than at the same time last year. Capacity is driving this industry, creating price surges and salary increases and placing “shippers of choice” at the front lines. With this formula, detention times can become folklore with trailer dwell time potentially reduced exponentially.
Finally, the membership’s continued vision, engagement, and support has influenced our record-breaking results and has helped shape our future. The Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) Scholarship Program, Fleet Safety Awards, Best Fleets to Drive For, Driver of the Year, and Highway Angels have experienced double-digit increases in applications. Our Government Affairs team is aggressively pursuing our promise to you as “Being the Voice of Truckload.” The Membership Committee has a strong plan in which they will be meeting monthly to increase our membership through new technology and prospecting. We have hired Ryan Snyder as Membership Manager. He brings to us a working knowledge of trucking and is already known by many members. The TCA education offerings are proving to be widely accepted, and the participation level has grown exponentially. Thank you to our sponsors for your generous contributions and for investing in our industry.
All of our committees are moving things forward. We are grateful to all of you for the excellent leadership and engagement. Our virtual Fall Business Meetings produced strong results and direction.
WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?
Be safe, and thank you for your leadership!