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Unemployment hits 49-year low at 3.7% in September; trucking adds 600 jobs

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WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added just 134,000 jobs in September, the fewest in a year, though the figure was likely lowered by Hurricane Florence, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest level since 1969.

Hurricane Florence struck North and South Carolina in the middle of September and closed thousands of businesses. A category that includes restaurants, hotels and casinos lost jobs for the first time since last September, when Hurricane Harvey had a similar effect.

Even with unemployment now at a historic low, average hourly pay increased just 2.8 percent from a year earlier in September, one tick below the yearly gain in August.

The for-hire trucking industry added  only 600 jobs in September, but has added a total of 69,400 jobs thus far in 2018 and has added over 86,000 since January 2017.

September extended the longest streak of hiring on record, with millions of Americans having gone back to work since the Great Recession.  Healthy consumer and business spending has been fueling brisk economic growth and emboldening employers to continue hiring. The September gain extended an 8½-year streak of monthly job growth.

Consumers, business executives and most economists remain optimistic. Measures of consumer confidence are at or near their highest levels in 18 years. Retailers have begun scrambling to hire enough workers for what’s expected to be a robust holiday shopping season. A survey of service-sector firms, including banks, hotels and health care providers, found that they are expanding at their fastest pace in a decade.

Americans have continued spending steadily and appear to be in generally stable financial shape. Households are saving nearly 7 percent of their incomes — more than twice the savings rate before the recession. That trend suggests that a brighter economic outlook hasn’t caused consumers to recklessly build up unsustainable debt.

During the April-June quarter, the U.S. economy expanded at a 4.2 percent annual rate, the best in four years. Economists have forecast that growth reached a 3 percent to 3.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter.

The economy does show some weak spots. Sales of existing homes have fallen over the past year. Increasingly expensive houses, higher mortgage rates and a shortage of properties for sale are slowing purchases. Auto sales have also slumped.

Other threats loom, too. Borrowing costs for businesses and consumers are rising. Pointing to the economy’s health, the Federal Reserve last week raised the short-term interest rate it controls and predicted that it would continue to tighten credit into 2020 to manage growth and inflation. Over time, higher borrowing costs make auto loans, mortgages and corporate debt more expensive and can eventually slow the economy.

But for now, anticipating stronger growth — and perhaps higher inflation — investors have dumped bonds and forced up their yields. The yield on the government’s 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for mortgages and other loans, has touched its highest level in seven years.

President Donald Trump’s trade fights could also weigh on the economy, though the effect on hiring won’t likely be felt until next year, economists say. The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum as well as on roughly half of China’s imports to the United Sates. Most U.S. businesses will try to absorb the higher costs themselves, at least for now, economists say, and avoid layoffs.

Still, should the tariffs remain fully in effect a year from now, roughly 300,000 jobs could be lost by then, according to estimates by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

PHOTO CAPTION

In this June 21, 2018, file photo, job applicants talks with representatives from Aldi at a job fair hosted by Job News South Florida, in Sunrise, Florida. Friday, the  U.S. government said even though U.S. employers had added only 134,000 jobs in September, the unemployment rate hit a 49-year low at 3.7 percent. (Associated Press: LYNNE SLADKY)

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NACV to feature 3 Solutions Theaters to focusing on trucking industry needs

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Leading truck and trailer manufacturers and commercial vehicle parts and components suppliers will demonstrate their latest product offerings during the NACV Show 2019, taking place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta from October 28-31. The NACV Show 2021 will be held in Atlanta from September 27-30, 2021. (Courtesy: NACV)

ATLANTA — The North American Commercial Vehicle Show (NACV Show), the biennial B2B trucking industry event focusing on the needs of fleet owners, managers and decision makers, said Thursday that it will feature three new Solutions Theaters to showcase topical industry discussions on the show floor.

The show organizers have partnered with leading industry publications to secure thought leaders and industry visionaries who will discuss a range of topics.

All Solutions Theaters’ sessions are free for NACV Show 2019 registered attendees.

“We expect the discussions that take place in our three Solutions Theaters will inform and empower all industry professionals who attend NACV Show 2019,” said Carmen Diaz, show manager for the NACV Show. “We are excited to present top industry leaders and visionaries during our on-floor education sessions to discuss both the challenges and opportunities confronting today’s fleet professionals.”

Following is an overview of some of the NACV Show 2019 on-floor education sessions:

Two panel discussions will take place in the Solutions Theater located in Hall A.

The first panel is entitled “Finding the Data Driven Solutions That Work for You,” which will focus on how fleet owners can identify leading service challenges. Panel participants will provide insight into collecting and organizing the right data to help overcome these challenges. The second panel is entitled “How to Use Data to Improve Service Operations” that will highlight how to best utilize data — from fault code data to VMRS records — to reduce fleet downtime to improve operations.

Also, in the Hall A Solutions Theater, three educational topics will be discussed, including a Class 8 panel discussion, a medium duty panel discussion and “Last Mile – Autonomous Delivery Startups” discussion.

Two panel discussions will take place in the Solutions Theaters located in Hall B, including “Vetting Technology” and “Best use of Smart Technology.” Three educational sessions will also take place in the Solutions Theaters located in Hall B, including “Transitioning from AOBRDs to ELDs,” “Driver Retention” and “Rapid Pace of Technology Trucking.”

The show organizers will announce additional conference and educational programming topics prior to the event, which takes place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta from October 28-31.

The North American Commercial Vehicle Show is a B2B exhibition focused on fleet decision makers and key influencers in the commercial vehicle industry.

 

 

 

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FTR March Shippers Conditions Index shows positive momentum

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An FTR official said an area to watch is diesel prices, which could move up in the fourth quarter. (The Trucker file photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — FTR’s March Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) rose two full points from February to a reading of 2.8 reflecting a continued easing of truckload and intermodal rates.  The outlook is for improved shipper conditions through 2019.

However, some key areas to watch are fuel price increases and capacity utilization in trucking which can result in added costs for shippers, according to Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR.

“Shippers are benefiting from relatively stable fuel prices and weaker trucking capacity utilization than they experienced in 2018. But both of those metrics are expected to tighten up as the year progresses,” Tranausky said. “Diesel prices could move up in the fourth quarter ahead of the IMO 2020 fuel mandate, which could pressure fuel surcharges higher late in 2019.”

The May issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published May 8, 2019, details the factors affecting the March Shippers Conditions Index. Also included is data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs, and the truck driver situation.

The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions include freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem…and readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Double digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

 

 

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Heartland Express opens new, remodeled terminals in Colorado, California

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The Heartland Express Driver Appreciation Team performed at the ribbon cutting for the new terminal in Frederick, Colorado. (Courtesy: HEARTLAND EXPRESS)

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — Heartland Express has opened a new terminal at Frederick, Colorado, and a remodeled terminal in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Just north of the Denver metro area, the Colorado facility offers a service shop with a truck wash, fully covered 24-hour fuel island and service lanes.

The terminal features a driver lounge with 24-hour access and amenities that include restrooms with private walk-in showers and laundry room with full size washer/dryer units. Other comforts include sofas and recliner chairs, table seating, ice machine, coffee, and a large screen TV for entertainment.

An RFID software system was installed for driver security and over five acres of parking with industrial Wi-Fi network available site wide.

The opening of the Frederick terminal occurred shortly after the grand re-opening of the newly remodeled Southern California facility in Rancho Cucamonga.

This 20-acre facility includes all of the amenities available in Frederick and utilizes solar power. Rancho Cucamonga is also one of 12 company locations that hosts driver orientation and soon we look forward to driver orientation at the Frederick facility.

“I’m extremely proud of these new terminals and what we can offer to our drivers. We’ve invested significant time, capital, and environmentally conscious resources into these provisions and look forward to seeing growth of our market position in both locations respectively,” said Heartland Express CEO, Mike Gerdin. “These grand openings are just the start of great new things to come from Heartland. Including the completion of these two terminal projects, we are spending an estimated $40-50 million on terminal related capital projects during 2019.  These terminal projects are centered around upgrades, remodels, expansions and terminal amenities for the comfort and support of our drivers, including additions of truck wash facilities at certain locations. Our desire is to offer state of the art amenities to our drivers while they are away from home.

The Frederick terminal is located at 9040 Bruin Blvd. The Rancho Cucamonga terminal is located at8566 Pecan Ave.

Heartland Express is an irregular route truckload carrier based in North Liberty, Iowa, serving customers with shipping lanes throughout the United States. Heartland focuses on medium to short haul regional freight, offering shippers industry leading on-time service so they can achieve their strategic goals for their customers.

For more information, visit www.heartlandexpress.com.

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