Drivers returning to the workforce: ACT

by Today's Trucking

ACT Research’s For-Hire Trucking Index reflected a decrease in volumes, pricing, and productivity, with more drivers returning to work, adding some capacity.

“While the pandemic continues to cast uncertainty, the freight volume outlook remains positive. In spite of the supply-chain constraints, retailers have managed to stock up ahead of the holidays, the consumer balance sheet is strong and massive restocking demand remains ahead,” said Tim Denoyer, vice-president and senior analyst at ACT Research.

chart displaying driver availability

“The most critical survey takeaways this month revolve around the driver market, with the Driver Availability Index improving considerably in October, as it became clear that most fleets will be exempt from proposed federal vaccine rules. The large fleets who train the vast majority of the industry’s drivers would be impacted by the mandate, though it appears only driver schools and team drivers will fall outside of the exemptions. We see ongoing supply-chain turgidity limiting capacity growth, but the pace of hiring is gradually improving, which will be key to the rate trajectory.”

Denoyer went on to say the supply-demand balance in trucking is slower than normal to rebalance, leading to record rate increases.

“Equipment capacity is tight as Class 8 tractor and trailer sales are constrained by parts shortages, leaving immense unmet demand,” he added. “With some structural driver issues likely to outlast the pandemic and a generally positive freight outlook, we do not expect the market to loosen quickly.”

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