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U.S. employers added a stellar 312,000 jobs in December, trucking adds 36,600 for year

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WASHINGTON  — U.S. employers dramatically stepped up their hiring in December, adding 312,000 jobs in an encouraging display of strength for an economy in the midst of a trade war, slowing global growth and a partial shutdown of the federal government.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9 percent, but that reflected a surge in jobseekers— a positive for growth.

Average hourly pay improved 3.2 percent from a year ago, up from average wage growth of 2.7 percent at the end of 2017.

The for-hire trucking industry added 2,900 jobs in December, bringing the year’s total of new jobs to 36,600.

The jolt in hiring offers a dose of reassurance after a tumultuous few months as the outlook from the financial markets has turned decidedly bleaker. Job growth at this pace is a sign that the economy will continue to expand for a 10th straight year, even if overall growth slows somewhat because of the waning stimulus from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.

Although employers are showing their confidence, the financial markets have become increasingly worried.

Major companies such as Apple say their sales are being jeopardized by the tariff-fueled trade war between the United States and China. Factory activity in China and the United States have both weakened, with the Institute for Supply Management’s U.S. manufacturing index on Thursday posting its steepest decline in a decade.

The government is about to enter its third week of a partial shutdown, with negotiations stalled over President Donald Trump’s insistence that Democrats agree on funding for a wall along the border with Mexico. And attacks by Trump on the Federal Reserve over its rate increases have raised doubts about Chairman Jay Powell’s status — a concern for both the markets and the economy.

The expected continuation of steady job growth suggests that such risks might be — for the moment, anyway — overblown. However, the stock market will have to weigh whether the strong job growth encourages the Fed to hike rates in 2019 more frequently than investors had previously anticipated.

The health care, food services, construction and manufacturing sectors were the primary contributors to last month’s hiring.

Health care and education services added 82,000 jobs in December, the biggest jump since February 2012. Restaurants and drinking placed posted a net gain of 40,700 jobs. Builders added 38,000 construction jobs, while manufacturers increased their payrolls by 32,000 workers.

Businesses are still searching for more workers. The employment site Glassdoor found that job postings have risen 17 percent in the past year to 6.7 million.

“We really don’t see any slowdown yet,” said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.

Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, the influx of people searching for work coupled with the job gains is an indication that the rate should decline in the coming months. Economists estimate that it requires roughly 100,000 job gains each month to satisfy population growth and keep the unemployment rate at its current level.

Hiring has easily eclipsed that pace. In 2018, employers added 2.6 million jobs, or an average of nearly 217,000 a month, according to the Labor Department.

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Barr-Nunn creates new solo fleets, increased pay

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Barr-Nunn Transportation also offers an over-the road North fleet for those drivers living in West Virginia, Detroit, along with parts of Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa. (Courtesy: BARR-NUNN TRANSPORTATION)

GRANGER, Iowa — Barr-Nunn Transportation has created new solo fleets and increased pay.

For drivers living in the northeastern United States, Ohio and some of Indiana and Kentucky there are now two options for home time.

Drivers can be home every weekend for two days and earn a maximum starting pay of 60 cents per practical mile or drivers can be home every other weekend for three days and earn a maximum starting pay of 61 cents per practical mile.

Barr-Nunn Transportation also offers an over-the road North fleet for those drivers living in West Virginia, Detroit, along with parts of Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  These drivers are home every 18 days for four full days and can earn a top starting rate of 62 cents per practical mile to start.

In addition to these starting rates all company drivers receive CSA safety bonuses of $725 or $550 every 90 days plus PTO (vacation) along with the money.  Over-the-road company drivers can earn over two weeks of PTO (vacation) in their first year with Barr-Nunn and they start receiving this PTO after 30 days.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance, 401(k) matching program, extra pay per mile on shorter hauls and paid life insurance are added benefits at Barr-Nunn.

For more information about Barr-Nunn Transportation visit their website at www.barrnunntruckingjobs.com or call 888-999-7576.

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FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index took step back in April

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The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market including freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. (The Trucker file photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — FTR’s April Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) took a step back in April to a reading of 1.9, close to a full point below March.

The April SCI measure was negatively affected by stronger rail rates and higher fuel prices outweighing improved shipper conditions related to trucking.

The outlook shows strong shipper conditions through 2019 as the rate environment is expected to become more favorable.  Key factors to watch include fuel prices, truck utilization, and rail service.

“Shippers should continue to expect favorable conditions and an ability to easily get freight placed in the market,” said Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR. “They will be aided by the relatively stable fuel prices through most of the rest of 2019 and somewhat slowing rail freight volumes.”

The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are: 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.

For more information about the work of FTR, visit www.FTRintel.com, follow us on Twitter @ftrintel, or call (888) 988-1699, ext. 1.

 

 

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ACT Research Trucking Index shows nearly across-the-board declines

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This chart shows the history of the Volume Index which dropped further into negative territory hitting 46.7 (SA), from 49.5 in April. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index showed nearly across-the-board declines, with capacity being the lone exception.

The Pricing Index fell considerably to 38.8, in May on a seasonally adjusted (SA) basis, the lowest in survey history, from 45.4 in April.

The Volume Index dropped further into negative territory hitting 46.7 (SA), from 49.5 in April. Fleet productivity/utilization slipped to 46.0 in May on a seasonally adjusted basis down from 49.4 in April, and capacity growth increased to 54.6, from April’s 54.3 reading.

“May’s Pricing Index was the fourth consecutive negative number after 30 straight months of expansion. This confirms our expectation that the annual bid season is not going well for truckers,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s vice president and senior analyst. “We continue to believe rates are under pressure from weak freight volumes and strong capacity growth.”

Volume in May fell for the sixth time in the past seven months, Denover said.

“The softness coincides with several other recent freight metrics, with the drop likely due in part to rapid growth of private fleets and the slowdown in the industrial sector of the economy,” he said. “The supply-demand balance reading loosened to 42.1, from 45.3 in April. The past seven consecutive readings have shown a deterioration in the supply-demand balance, with May the largest yet.”

The ACT Freight Forecast provides quarterly forecasts for the direction of volumes and contract rates through 2020 and annual forecasts through 2021 for the truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal segments of the transportation industry.

For the truckload spot market, the report provides forecasts for the next 12 months.

ACT is a publisher of new and used commercial vehicle (CV) industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American market, as well as the U.S. tractor-trailer market and the China CV market. ACT’s CV services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, major trucking and logistics firms, as well as the banking and investment community in North America, Europe, and China.

 

 

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