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Nov.30, 2015

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GOVERNMENT WATCH www.joc.com THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 17 digit percentages in some cases. Still, truck drivers have been leaving large truckload carriers at a faster pace. The driver turnover rate at large truckload carriers rose from 84 percent in the first quarter of this year to 87 percent in the second, according to data from the American Trucking Associations. The driver shortage has reached approx- imately 48,000 and could continue to grow as older drivers leave the industry at a faster rate than younger drivers can get behind the wheel, according to the ATA. Opponents of lowering the driving age, however, argued that the proposal needs more evidence that teenage drivers are just as safe as their older counterparts. They called for further review from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Industry enthusiasm for the language lowering the minimum age for drivers came after lawmakers rejected an amendment to the highway bill that would have ostensibly increased weight restrictions for trucks on the road. The amendment would have allowed states to decide whether they want to increase the current limit of 80,000 pounds for cargo trucks to 91,000 pounds as long as trucks have an additional sixth axle. The legislation, known as the Safe, Flex- ible and Efficient Trucking Act, wouldn't regulate truck size and wouldn't be con- sidered a mandate, according to Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., who introduced the bill. If it had passed, it would have been left to individ- ual states to determine whether they would increase their interstate weight limits. The DOT has estimated increasing truck weights would reduce logistics costs for ship- pers by 1.4 percent annually, yielding logistics savings of $5.6 billion. Moreover, the cost of retrofitting five-axle trucks with a sixth axle is estimated to cost just $7,400 per trailer. Like the language lowering the mini- mum age for drivers, R ibble said his amendment was aimed at loosening capacity in the industry. Individual shippers threw their support behind the bill for just that reason. Donna Harman, president and CEO of the American Forest and Paper Association, said if Ribble's bill had passed and appli- cable states were to opt for the 91,000-pound weight limits, the number of trucks carry- ing forest products on U.S. interstates would decline by 1.4 million and the number of miles traveled would decline by some 250 million. JOC Contact Reynolds Hutchins at reynolds.hutchins@ihs.com and follow him on Twitter: @Hutchins_JOC. THE PUSH TO hire more truck drivers stalled this fall, with headcounts at for-hire trucking companies in October flat from September and rising 2 percent year-over-year. With shippers and transportation analysts reporting adequate and even excess capacity in U.S. trucking markets, efforts to expand trucking payrolls may stay in low gear. The 100,000-plus motor carriers tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics added only 400 jobs in October, after seeing their head- count drop by 3,200 employees in September. That kept The Journal of Commerce For- Hire Trucking Employment Index at 100.5 for the second consecutive month, down from a record high reading of 100.7 in July and August. Based on trucking employment levels in the 2006 fourth quarter, the index rose above 100 in May, as for-hire trucking companies hit their peak pre-recession employment levels. At the same time, overstocked inventories and lower freight demand loosened trucking capacity in the U.S. The swing to adequate capacity helped slow trucking's hiring rate. The annualized hiring rate dropped from 3.6 percent in February to 2 percent in October. Falling unemployment also means fewer workers for trucking companies to hire or train as truck drivers, mechanics or for other jobs. The U.S. unemployment rate is now 5 percent. The U.S. economy created 271,000 jobs in October, the U.S. Labor Department said, with jobs reported for business services, health care, retail, food and drink, and construction. An unemployment rate of 5 percent is near what many economists consider full employment. The construction industry, in particular, competes with trucking for work- ers. Construction companies added 31,000 employees in October. Transportation and warehouse companies lost 2,100. Overall, the number of employees added to trucking payrolls in the first 10 months of 2015 was 58 percent below the headcount in the same period of 2014 — 13,500 compared with 31,900. Trucking doubled down on hiring in 2014, boosting the number of employees added to payrolls by 82 percent compared to 2013. This year's reduction reflects the steep drop in demand. Motor carriers say they face a shortage of qualified truck drivers despite that drop in demand. That shortage will rise to 48,000 drivers this year, the American Trucking Asso- ciations said. And the shortage of experienced truck drivers will grow as those drivers retire and the regulatory and professional requirements imposed on truck drivers get tighter, the ATA said. — William B. Cassidy DRIVER HIRING SLOWS 100 = 4Q 2006 Average (1,447 employed, in thousands) Source: The Journal of Commerce, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data JOC FOR-HIRE TRUCKING EMPLOYMENT INDEX n This index represents the monthly change in for-hire trucking employment based on seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (4Q 2006 average = 100). The index shows steady improvement in trucking employment since payroll numbers hit bottom in March 2010. In May 2012, trucking employment as measured by the BLS was still about 7.6 percent below its early 2007 peak. 80 85 90 95 100 105 1/1/2006 10/1/2015 3/1/2010

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