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US hiring slowed to 155K jobs, trucking gains on seasonally adjusted data

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WASHINGTON  — U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in November, a slowdown from recent months but enough to suggest that the economy is expanding at a solid pace despite sharp gyrations in the stock market.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate remained 3.7 percent, nearly a five-decade low, for the third straight month. Average hourly pay rose 3.1 percent from a year ago, matching the previous month’s figure, which was the best since 2009.

CAPTION FOR PHOTO

Laurence Marzo, left, and Ty Ford, right, move a conveyor belt into place to help unload a truck carrying merchandise at a Walmart Supercenter in Houston.  (Associated Press: DAVID J. PHILLIP)

The economy is expanding at a healthy pace, but rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China, ongoing interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve and weakening global growth have roiled financial markets. Analysts expect growth to slow but remain solid in 2019 as the impact of last year’s tax cuts fade.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, for hire trucking gained 4,500 jobs; on a not seasonally adjusted basis, the industry lost 1,200 jobs.

The jobs figure was less than many economists forecast, but few saw the report as a sign of a broader slowdown.

“The economy continues to churn out new jobs and reflects the strong underlying business conditions that point to steady, albeit slower job growth and economic activity in 2019,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at consulting firm RSM. “This report strongly implies that a recession is not looming just over the horizon.”

The report is unlikely to dissuade the Federal Reserve from raising short-term interest rates at its meeting later this month, as expected, Brusuelas said. But it suggests the Fed may not hike rates next year as rapidly as many investors have feared.

The ongoing job gains are pushing down unemployment rates to historically low levels for a variety of groups. The unemployment rate for men aged 20 and above fell last month to 3.3 percent, the lowest in 18 years. And the rate for Americans with just high school diplomas dropped to 3.5 percent, the lowest since December 2000. The African-American jobless rate declined to 5.9 percent, matching May’s figure as the lowest on record.

November’s job gains are down from October’s robust 237,000, which was revised lower from last month’s estimate. Hiring has averaged 195,000 a month for the past six months, modestly below an average of 212,000 in the previous six.

Hiring in November was led by health care firms, which added 40,100 jobs, and professional services such as accounting and engineering, which gained 32,000. Manufacturing companies hired 27,000 new workers, the most in seven months and a sign that trade tensions have yet to weaken factory hiring.

Construction firms cut back, however, adding just 5,000 jobs, the fewest in five months. Hiring also slowed in restaurants, bars and hotels.

Most recent data have pointed to solid economic growth. Americans increased their spending in October by the most in seven months, and their incomes grew by the most in nine months, according to a government report last week. Consumer confidence remains near 18-year highs, surveys show. And both manufacturing and services companies expanded at a healthy pace in November, according to a pair of business surveys.

The housing market, though, has stumbled this year as the Fed’s rate hikes have contributed to sharply higher mortgage rates. Sales of existing homes have fallen 5.4 percent from a year earlier, the biggest annual decline in more than four years.

Investors, however, are mostly focused on where the economy is headed. They are worried that the U.S.-China trade war could still intensify, despite an agreement over the weekend between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping that included postponing a planned U.S. tariff hike for 90 days. Higher tariffs would compound the risks for a global economy that is already grappling with dismal growth figures from Europe and Japan.

The interest rate paid by longer-term bonds has also fallen sharply in the past month, panicking investors, while short-term rates have declined by much less. That typically signals a weaker economy ahead.

And the Federal Reserve has raised short-term interest rates three times this year and is likely to do so a fourth time later this month, thereby raising borrowing costs for consumers and businesses. The Fed has signaled that it could increase rates again next year.

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Business

Convoy launches Convoy Go, a grab and go system

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Graphic shows the operational model for Convoy Go. (Courtesy: CONVOY)

SEATTLE — Convoy, a nationwide trucking network and platform, has launched Convoy Go, a drop and hook marketplace that allows any carrier or owner-operator in the U.S. to start hauling pre-loaded trailers, and to operate at the same level as large asset-based carriers.

Drop shipments, or pre-loaded trailers, currently represent the majority of Fortune 500 company shipments.

To date, most of these shipments have been serviced by large asset-based carriers.

Convoy Go enables any carrier or owner-operator in the U.S. using the Convoy app to operate at the same level as large asset-based carriers, in terms of fleet utilization, service levels and access to shipments.

With its drop and hook marketplace, Convoy Go creates a seamless “grab and go” system, where carriers simply bring their power unit, pick up a pre-loaded trailer and hit the road, according to Tito Hubert, product lead for Convoy Go. To accomplish this, Convoy Go leverages its Universal Trailer Pool, a nationwide pool of Convoy-managed trailers that can be used by any driver in Convoy’s network, with no rental fees, he said.

“Convoy’s data shows that up to a third of the cost of truck freight in the U.S. is attributable to time spent either waiting for appointments, or waiting at the dock to load and unload,” Hubert said. “This massive amount of waste has a direct impact on increased transportation costs, decreased drivers’ earnings and reduced overall trucking capacity for shippers. We built Convoy Go to enable drivers to increase their productivity and earnings, all while providing shippers with greater capacity.”

He said Convoy Go reduces driver wait time in facilities from an average of three hours to less than an hour and provides five- to-10 hour appointment windows, offering drivers more flexibility to optimize their schedule.

Together, this translates into increases of carrier productivity of up to 50%. Carriers can find, book and complete a load, all using the Convoy app. Convoy’s Universal Trailer Pool is shared across all shippers and trucking companies, Hubert said.

Since Convoy initially piloted this offering in 2017, the company has worked with select shippers and thousands of drivers to tune the model across the Northeast, Southeast, South and West regions. Today, the program is available to all shippers and carriers nationwide.

Carriers, most of which are doing drop and hook loads for the first time, experience shorter wait times at facilities and flexible appointment windows, which translate directly into increased carrier productivity:

Convoy is a nationwide trucking network and platform striving to transform the $800B U.S. trucking industry. With Convoy, carriers get access to a free mobile app that allows them to find loads they want, save time, drive fewer miles empty, and get paid quickly. Hubert said shippers use Convoy’s data-driven insights and industry-leading service levels to book loads, improve their supply chain operations, lower costs, and reduce waste.

 

 

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Schneider says it will use its assets to enhance middle mile capabilities

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With its acquisition of Watkins & Shepard Trucking in 2016, Schneider became a provider in first to final mile delivery of over-dimensional goods for omnichannel retailers and manufacturers. (Courtesy: SCHNEIDER)

GREEN BAY, Wis. —  With its end-to-end delivery portfolio, Schneider says it is able to deliver seamless shipping that keeps businesses one step ahead from the first to the final mile. The middle mile, which provides connectivity from and between local last-mile terminals, is equally as important as its first- and final-mile counterparts.

To optimize the movement of freight through its 24 terminal networks across 48 states, Schneider is broadening its middle-mile configuration to include its van truckload and intermodal owned assets, according to Rob Bulick, senior vice president and general manager of First to Final Mile.

With its acquisition of Watkins & Shepard Trucking in 2016, Schneider became a provider in first to final mile delivery of over-dimensional goods for omnichannel retailers and manufacturers.

Schneider now capitalizes on the full force of its broad network for the middle and final mile, with access to more than 10,700 trucks, 22,000 intermodal containers and a suite of technology tools for comprehensive freight management, Bulick said.

Throughout this process, Schneider is able to fully apply its proprietary network optimization system to freight within the middle mile to enhance consistency of the engineered network. An engineered network determines required departure and processing times, expected delivery times and regulates workflow through the terminals.

Schneider’s engineering management tools apply data-driven recommendations to optimize operations and manage the movement of freight through the middle mile. The overall engineered network will also contribute to standardizing pricing and transit, he said.

“Full incorporation of Schneider’s assets into the middle-mile service offering will reduce the number of freight handlings through the terminal network, ultimately reducing product claims. This optimization will also improve driver efficiency and increase consistency in service standards and delivery times,” Bulick said.

Along with middle-mile optimization, Schneider is implementing a standardized delivery day for ZIP codes, creating predictability.

Customers will be provided with the exact transit flow of their shipment, as well as a projected day and time for delivery from ZIP code to ZIP code for a holistic, end-to-end scheduled solution.

“A seamless delivery experience – whether it’s the first mile, the last mile or the miles in between – means there’s a consistent, reliable network working hard for a customer’s business,” Bulick said. “Expanding our middle-mile strength to include Schneider’s owned assets and data-driven network optimizations ensures we’re constantly meeting the high expectations for final-mile delivery that customers and consumers can depend on and trust.”

To learn more about how Schneider’s and Watkins’ end-to-end portfolio of services makes for smooth first to final mile deliveries, visit https://schneider.com/our-services/first-to-final-mile.

 

 

 

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No spring break for spot van, reefer rates

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The map shows the various rate ranges for van load to rate ratios. (Courtesy: DAT TRENDLINES)

PORTLAND, Ore. — National average spot van and refrigerated freight rates slipped again during the week ending April 13 as the number of load posts fell 4% while truck posts increased 3%.

The arrival of produce season in several southern markets failed to make up for the effects of more capacity in the spot market and bad weather across much of the country, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Here are the national average spot rates:

  • Van: $1.83/mile, 2 cents lower than the March average
  • Flatbed: $2.37/mile, 3 cents higher than March
  • Reefer: $2.15/mile, 2 cents lower than March

Van trends

How soft are spot van rates? Pricing was lower on 76 of the top 100 van lanes last week. Only 23 lanes saw rates rise and one lane was neutral.

Van load-to-truck ratios have not held up after a promising start to April, with the national average sitting at 1.3 loads for every available truck. The good news is that load counts rose nearly 5% in Chicago and Houston, and more than 3% in Los Angeles last week—major markets for spot van freight.

Markets to watch: Outbound rates were down from Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte to Allentown, Pennsylvania, gave up 13 cents to $2.08/mile, and rates fell on two Buffalo-inbound lanes: Columbus to Buffalo, down 19 cents to $2.66/mile, and Chicago to Buffalo, off 19 cents to $2.31/mile.

Reefer trends

Prices rose on 38 of the top 72 reefer lanes last week. Thirty-one lanes were lower and three were neutral. Higher volume in Florida and California was balanced out by lower volume from the Upper Midwest and Texas, which hurt spot reefer pricing overall.

Markets to watch: Lakeland, Florida, volumes spiked nearly 27% last week while the average outbound rate climbed 2 cents to $1.57/mile. Let’s see if Lakeland rates trace the pattern in Miami, where a big jump in volume two weeks ago was followed by a nice gain in the average outbound rate ($1.80/mile, up 13 cents). Meanwhile, several lanes from Florida and California produced strong rates:

  • Fresno, California, to Denver up 40 cents to $2.24/mile
  • Fresno to Boston gained 19 cents to $2.23/mile
  • Miami to Baltimore up 29 cents to $2.00/mile
  • Miami to Elizabeth, New Jersey, rose 15 cents to $1.82/mile

The Imperial Valley is underperforming for reefer freight: last week the average outbound rate from Ontario, California, was $2.51/mile, down 8 cents, on 9% lower volume.

DAT Trendlines are generated using DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $60 billion in freight payments. DAT load boards average 1.2 million load posts searched per business day.

For the latest spot market loads and rate information, visit dat.com/trendines and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter.

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