What's Ahead For The Trucking Industry?

April 9, 2012

Most truckers recognize some drastic changes have occurred in the industry since the recession began in 2008. Higher fuel prices, more legislative mandates, and reduced consumer spending have all taken their toll on many who depend on this profession for survival. Sometimes the key to surviving difficult times is knowing what's ahead in the industry. Here is some information every trucker should know.

A recession is created when spending decreases and prices rise. This results in fewer goods needed by businesses, fewer orders to manufacturers, and less need for trucks to haul goods. In order to maintain a competitive edge, businesses have to lower prices to draw consumers, but this also limits the amount of profit they make and, therefore, reduced orders. When rising fuel costs are added into the mix, less money is left for goods and the cycle continues. Prior to 2008 the trucking industry thrived. There was steady demand and it seemed there was more work than could be completed. Since the recession hit in 2008, however, according to IBIS World Press, a turnaround in this trend changed beginning in 2011. Demand increased by 3.9% and a steady growth has been seen for truckers as a rate of 3.2% annually. So for those who are worried about the economy, hang in there. Things are getting better.

According to Inbound Logistics one positive change that has come out of the recession is the fact that the industry has become more efficient. New technology to improve fuel efficiency and lower emissions is required on trucks as well as cars by 2012 and trucking manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon by creating gadgets that will help drivers travel farther for less. According to Navistar, however, more than improved efficiency it is anticipated the trend from long-haul irregular routes to regional distribution will continue. One reason for this change is the increased use of intermodal means of hauling, such as the truck-rail system for loads going over 1,000 miles. For truckers this means that the future may find them sticking closer to home, which can increase time at home and the development and maintenance of personal relationships.

Although the American Trucking Association predicted a steady, long-term growth in freight volumes, it has been suggested that higher federal taxes and fuel costs may cut consumers' discretionary spending. What this means for truckers is less goods to haul. However, one thing found in longitudinal studies of consumer spending is that, regardless of the economy, many consumers want the new things that make their life easier and afford them an escape. Therefore, it is predicted that industries, such as technology, will continue to see steady growth. For truckers this means that if you can make connections with the right manufacturers, you will have work for many years to come.

On a good note, since the baby-boomer generation is retiring, it has left huge opportunities for new truckers to hit the road. It is predicted this will increase the number of recruits in trucking schools and in fleets hired by larger manufacturers. It will also open up new prospects for independent truckers that like more variety in their routes.

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