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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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Arrow Truck Sales names Jeffrey Oldham as president

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Currently, Arrow has 17 U.S. branches, plus locations in Toronto, Canada, and Berlin, Germany. The company carries a diverse inventory of late-model trucks of all makes and models and offers financing, as well as protection and insurance plans. (Courtesy: ARROW TRUCK SALES)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Arrow Truck Sales has named Jeffrey Oldham company president.

Oldham will replace Steve Clough who has retired from the company.

JEFFREY OLDHAM

Most recently, Oldham served as chief operating officer and general manager of Ag-Power, a multi-location retailer of new and used agricultural equipment.

Prior to that, he held various management and executive positions with John Deere (Deere & Co.), including new and aftermarket sales and factory marketing positions.

Oldham was also director of sales U.S. and Canada for John Deere Financial.

He holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri.

Oldham will be responsible for developing strategic plans that will deliver profitable growth for Arrow.

He will direct all financials, sales/marketing, strategic/tactical/operational planning, controls and activities to increase revenue, profitability, and growth.

Arrow Truck Sales was founded in 1950 and has grown to become a leading remarketer of used medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

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FTR Trucking Conditions Index for December spikes to double-digit positive reading

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Despite the December gain, FTR forecasts that this level will not be sustained in 2019 with readings falling back to the mid-single digit positive readings in January. (The Trucker file photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Following the November bounce back of FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index the December measure spiked to a reading of 11.46.

The sharply improved December reading is a result of strong month-over-month growth in volumes along with a favorable fuel environment, according to FTR Intel.

However, FTR forecasts that this level will not be sustained in 2019 with readings falling back to the mid-single digit positive readings in January and moving steadily to more neutral conditions likely by the fourth quarter

“While we don’t anticipate truly negative trucking conditions at any point in 2019, we think we have seen the end in this cycle of the abnormally strong pro-carrier conditions that had held sway from the days following the 2017 hurricanes through the second quarter of 2018. December 2018 probably was just one last taste of the good ol’ days of six months ago,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking.

The Trucking Conditions Index tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence fleet behavior. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, 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, while readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

To access charts suitable to accompany this press release, go to

For more than two decades, FTR has specialized in freight transportation forecasting in North America. The company collects and analyzes all data likely to impact freight movement, issuing consistently reliable reports for trucking, rail, and intermodal transportation, as well as providing demand analysis for commercial vehicle and railcar. FTR’s forecasting and specially designed reports have resulted in advanced planning and cost-savings for companies throughout the transportation sector. 8

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DAT Solutions says spot rates continue seasonal slide

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All three truckload segments have been dipping for the past four weeks. (Courtesy: DAT SOLUTIONS)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Spot truckload rates dipped again during the week ending February 9 despite higher freight volumes than at this time in each of the past three years, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The number of posted loads and trucks both increased 4 percent last week but rates sagged for all three equipment types:

  • Van: $1.91/mile, down 3 cents
  • Flatbed: $2.34/mile, down 1 cent
  • Reefer: $2.25/mile, down 4 cents

Van trends

Van load posts on DAT load boards dipped 2 percent compared to the previous week while truck posts increased 3 percent. That caused the national average van load-to-truck ratio to decline from 4.8 to 4.6 van loads per truck, although spot van volumes are strong year over year.

Average outbound rates from most major markets are well below where they were a month ago and failed to make gains last week. Rates on many lanes affected by extreme winter weather drifted back down to earth, including:

  • Chicago to Detroit, down 22 cents to $3.13/mile
  • Chicago to Columbus, down 12 to $2.79/mile
  • Denver to Albuquerque, down 15 cents to $1.88/mile

Flatbed trends

The number of flatbed load posts on DAT load boards increased 16 percent last week while truck posts were up 9 percent, an indication that construction season is heating up. It helped lift the national average flatbed load-to-truck ratio from 22.6 to 24.1 flatbed loads per truck.

Reefer trends

The national reefer load-to-truck ratio moved down from 6.6 to 5.9 reefer loads per truck. Regionally, the focus for reefer haulers is shifting to Florida, where it’s still early for citrus harvests but prices are firming up on key lanes out of the state:

  • Miami to Boston jumped 33 cents to $1.98/mile
  • Lakeland, Fla., to Baltimore added 19 cents to $1.83/mile

Higher prices out of Miami and central Florida likely means that strawberries, tomatoes, and other mixed vegetables are on the move.

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 load availability and rate information, visit and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter.

 

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