GDP and Truck Tonnage

Ed Yardeni’s analysis of U. S. GDP growth as measured by the “coincident indicator” of truck tonnage is pretty interesting:

Could it be that all the chatter about the shortage of truck drivers is misguided? How else to explain the record high in truck tonnage? There is a good correlation between the ATA index and payroll employment of truckers. Friday’s employment report showed that payroll employment in the truck transportation industry has been stuck just below 1.5 million for the past six months, but it is at a record high and up 24,200 y/y.

Starting at the end of last year, a new federal rule requires all interstate truck drivers to install an electronic logging device, or ELD, that logs their hours. Truck drivers are required to reduce their overtime hours because fatigued ones have been involved in major crashes on the highways. That could exacerbate the perceived shortage of workers. The y/y growth rate in the average hourly earnings of truckers is very volatile, but April’s increase of 2.5% was relatively subdued and belies the shortage-of-truckers chatter.

Then what is the explanation for the “chatter”? Is it coming from employers or truckers or both? If it’s employers they may be envisioning future shortages rather than present ones which would seem consistent with high level of present tonnage.

3 comments… add one
  • walt moffett

    from the American Trucking Association Turnover rate rises. A 94 percent driver turnover rate for major carriers could be a sign there is a problem somewhere. I lean towards over worked and under paid.

    A secondary factor maybe all these private truck driving schools sprouting up like Dollar Generals.

  • Gray Shambler

    Can’t remember the source, but as I remember it said the average age of O T R truckers is now 55 years. It’s a lousy way to live and raise a family and only high pay will lure drivers. Most companies are now offering bonuses up to $2500.00 for new hires who last a year. They would apparently do that than raise per mile pay.

  • Gray Shambler

    By the way, I am now an unemployed trucker who could probably be lured by enough money, but I don’t have to do it so It’d have to be good.

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