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U.S. employers add robust 304K jobs; for-hire trucking adds 3,600

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In this file photo, an employment sign hangs from a wooden fence on the property of a McDonald's restaurant in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. On Friday, Feb. 1, the U.S. government issues the January jobs report, which will reveal the latest unemployment rate and number of jobs U.S. employers added. (Associated Press: JULIO CORTEZ)

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers shrugged off last month’s partial government shutdown and engaged in a burst of hiring in January, adding 304,000 jobs, the most in nearly a year.

The healthy gain the government reported Friday illustrated the job market’s durability nearly a decade into the economic expansion. The U.S. has now added jobs for 100 straight months, the longest such period on record.

The unemployment rate did rise in January to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, but mostly for a technical reason: Roughly 175,000 federal workers were counted as temporarily unemployed last month because of the shutdown.

For-hire trucking added 3,600 jobs, according to Department of Labor data.

The government on Friday also sharply revised down its estimate of job growth in December, to 222,000 from a previously estimated 312,000. Still, hiring has accelerated since last summer, a development that has surprised economists because hiring typically slows when unemployment is so low.

The ongoing demand for workers is leading some businesses to offer higher pay to attract and keep staff. Average hourly wages rose 3.2 percent in January from a year earlier. That’s just below the annual gain of 3.3 percent in December, which matched October and November for the fastest increase since April 2009.

The strong job market is also encouraging more people who weren’t working to begin looking. The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are seeking one — which had been unusually low since the recession ended a decade ago — reached 63.2 percent in January, the highest level in more than five years.

The 35-day government shutdown caused 800,000 workers to miss two paychecks. But because these workers will eventually receive back pay, they were counted as employed in the survey of businesses that produces the monthly job gain.

But in a separate survey of households that’s used to calculate the unemployment rate, many of these people were counted as temporarily jobless. That’s a key reason why the unemployment rate rose despite the healthy job gain.

Most economists have forecast that the shutdown will likely slow economic growth for the first three months of this year. But some say that even businesses that lost income from the shutdown likely held onto their staffs, knowing that the shutdown would only be temporary.

Friday’s solid jobs report provided a dose of reassurance that the economy remains mostly healthy and likely to shake off any effects of the shutdown. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the shutdown slowed annual growth for the January-March quarter by about 0.4 percentage point, to a rate of 2.1 percent, though that loss should lead to a bounce-back later this year.

The main reason for the temporary economic loss this quarter is that the thousands of government workers who missed two paychecks slowed their spending. The government itself also spent less. In addition, many businesses across the country lost income. Tourists cut back on visits to national parks, for example, thereby hurting nearby restaurants and hotels.

Yet with unemployment so low and many companies struggling to fill jobs, layoffs might not have been widespread.

The partial government shutdown has delayed the release of a range of government data about the economy, including statistics on housing, factory orders, and fourth-quarter growth.

The reports that have been released have been mixed. The Federal Reserve’s industrial production report showed that manufacturing output rose in December by the most in nearly a year, boosted by auto production.

But consumer confidence fell in January for a third straight month as Americans’ optimism dimmed amid the shutdown and sharp drops in the stock market. Falling confidence can cause consumers to restrain their spending, though economists note that confidence typically returns quickly after shutdowns end.

The housing market has slumped as mortgage rates have increased. Sales of existing homes plunged in December and fell 3.1 percent in 2018 from the previous year. Mortgage rates have fallen back after nearly touching 5 percent last year, but the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes still declined in December.

China’s economy is decelerating sharply, the United Kingdom is struggling to negotiate its exit from the European Union, and Italy’s economy has entered recession, exacerbating fears that slower global growth will cut into U.S. exports.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell this week cited the weaker global economy as a key reason why the central bank will be “patient” before it raises its benchmark interest rate again. That was a sharp turnaround from January, when Fed policymakers forecast two additional hikes for this year.

 

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Women In Trucking names its 2019 top woman-owned businesses

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Angela Eliacostas is the founder and owner of AGT Global Logistics, one of the companies the Women In Trucking Association has named its 2019 Top Women-Owned Businesses in Transportation. (Courtesy: Women in Trucking)

PLOVER, Wisc. —  The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has announced its annual list of the “Top Woman-Owned Businesses in Transportation.”

The names of the companies being recognized in 2019 were released in the latest edition of Redefining the Road, the official magazine of WIT.

WIT created the list was created to recognize women in leadership and encourage more women to become proactive leaders in their organizations and even start their own businesses, WIT president and CEO Ellen Voie said. The program supports WIT’s overall mission “To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles they face.”

Entrepreneurship is a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations, according to Brian Everett, publisher of Redefining the Road.

Companies considered for the recognition must meet criteria that includes majority ownership by a woman, financial stability and growth, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Each company was nominated and chosen based upon business success and accomplishments, including those related to gender diversity.

This year’s list includes companies from a diverse range of business sectors in the commercial freight transportation marketplace, including motor carriers, third-party logistics companies and original equipment manufacturers.

Companies named to the 2019 “Top Woman-Owned Businesses” list and their primary female business owners are:

  • Bennett International Group; Marcia G. Taylor, CEO
  • Kenco Logistics; Jane Kennedy Greene, chairwoman
  • London Auto Truck Center; Donna Childers, vice president
  • Rihm Family Companies; Kari Rihm, president and CEO
  • Veriha Trucking, Inc.; Karen Smerchek, president
  • Rush Trucking Corp.; Andra Rush, CEO
  • Aria Logistics; Arelis Gutierrez, CEO
  • Lodgewood Enterprises; Arlene Gagne, president
  • S-2international, LLC; Jennifer Mead, CEO
  • International Express Trucking; Karen Duff, president and CEO
  • Brenny Transportation, Inc.; Joyce Brenny, CEO and founder
  • Knichel Logistics; Kristy Knichel, CEO
  • Garner Trucking; Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, CEO
  • LYNC Logistics; Cindy Lee, president
  • Ontario Truck Training Academy; Yvette Lagrois, president
  • AGT Global Logistics; Angela Eliacostas, owner and founder
  • Powersource Transportation; (Barb Bakos, president
  • LaunchIt Public Relations; Susan Fall, president
  • United Federal Logistics, Inc.; Jennifer Behnke, president
  • BCP Transportation; Nancy Spelsberg, Ardis Jourdan, Kristie Rozinski
  • Ladybird Logistics Ltd.; Felicia Payin Marfo, managing director
  • DGT Trucking; Donna G. Sleasman, owner
  • RFX Inc.; Kimberly Welby, president and CEO)

These companies will be recognized during a special program at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas. For more information, visit WomenInTrucking.org.

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ATA Truck Tonnage Index falls 1.1% in June, but 1.5% higher than June 2018

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Compared with June 2018, the SA index increased 1.5%, the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2017.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.1% in June after falling 4% in May. In June, the index equaled 115.2 (2015=100) compared with 116.5 in May.

“Tonnage continues to show resilience as it posted the 26th year-over-year increase despite falling for the second straight month sequentially,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The year-over-year gain was the smallest over the past two years, but the level of freight remains quite high. Tonnage is outperforming other trucking metrics as heavy freight sectors, like tank truck, are witnessing better freight levels than sectors like dry van, which has a lower average weight per load.”

May’s reading was revised up compared with our June press release.

Compared with June 2018, the SA index increased 1.5%, the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2017.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 117.6 in June, 3.3% below May level (121.7). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

 

 

 

 

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JK Moving modernizes moving with mobile app and virtual AI estimating options

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The JK mobile app enables clients to go onto the app to receive and review estimates; accept and edit estimates; make payments; communicate with their sales consultant and move coordinator; and prepare for the move day. (Courtesy: JK MOVING)

STERLING, Va. — JK Moving Services, a global moving, storage, relocation and logistics enterprise, says it has added new technologies to further modernize the move experience for customers, including a mobile app to help the customer manage the move process and software to do virtual estimates with either a real person or by an artificial intelligence interface.

“Great technology makes for better moves and that’s why we invest in cutting-edge solutions. Mobile apps and AI are now part of our customer tool kit,” said CEO Chuck Kuhn. “Giving clients choices in how they work with us helps us meet a variety of customer needs and styles.”

Kuhn said JK’s tech team had created a downloadable mobile app that enables clients to go onto the app to receive and review estimates; accept and edit estimates; make payments; communicate with their sales consultant and move coordinator; and prepare for the move day. The app is monitored 24/7 by the JK team.

Since this custom app was developed in-house, JK is able to incorporate feedback and improvements quickly, Kuhn said, adding that the mobile app complements new estimating software that clients can use to get a virtual estimate.

The client gives a tour of their house with their phone to their choice of a real or AI representative. The AI estimating software recognizes shapes of objects and makes an inventory list. From that tour, JK can provide an estimate and send it to the mobile app. Estimators still are available to come to someone’s house if that is what the client prefers.

“Going mobile improves our customer offerings since many clients want products that are seamless, easy and quick. We’re receiving terrific feedback for our new mobile app and virtual estimating. These tech advancements put us at the forefront of the residential moving business,” said David Cox, executive vice president, residential, JK Moving.

Cox said the mobile app also reduces the use of paper, which is good for the environment. Environmental stewardship is part of the JK culture and a consideration in many of the company’s innovations.

“In fact, JK was one of the first on many environmentally friendly practices, including: ordering Tesla semi moving trucks, embracing new technologies that will further its aggressive carbon emissions-reduction goals, leading with box-less moves and major recycling efforts, and starting a chemical free community farm,” he said.

Another recent modernization includes the addition of dashcam technology in its whole fleet. These cameras are installed in the truck cabs. When a trigger event happens, such as a sudden stop or jostling movement, a 12-second video clip gets sent to DriveCam, a third-party vendor that monitors and evaluates the incidents. DriveCam sends JK feedback when opportunities arise to improve driving behaviors, enabling JK to provide customized training to drivers. The dashcams have resulted in employees improving their driving skills and experiencing fewer triggering events, resulting in fewer accidents and a reduction in claims.

 

 

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