Wallwork Truck Center recently took part in a gathering of truck industry people . Here is some of what we took away.

According to ATA Manufacturing is now the lead resource in the economic recovery which is unusual. Usually it is consumer spending, which leads to a recovery. As we know in the truck business, we only consider purchasing a new truck or new trailer, when our used truck wears out. Used trailers can only be run so long before it needs to be replaced. Kenworth Truck, Peterbilt Truck, Navistar truck, Mack Truck, Volvo Truck, Ford Truck, Freightliner Truck, Great Dane Trailer, Utility Trailer, R Way Trailer, Side Dump Trailer, Wabash Trailer like other US factories lead this recovery and continue to, since it started in 2010. Over all in 2011 all manufacturing was up 5%. As a reference truck and trailer sales are up considerably over that.

Because of quality and consistency like we see with the new Kenworth T680, most US manufacturing are becoming less labor intense because of automation. As with building trucks, it is difficult to compete with foreign labor costs, however this is pleasantly offset. Today the offshore plants are being directed to Asian markets. This helps US manufactures and the US economy.

Another big impact on truck owners is the US housing market. The housing market is starting to turn. Think of college grads who recently moved in with their parents, they will have to move out eventually. The job market is improving, however the statistics showing unemployment are being impacted by those leaving the job market. A distortion is coming from the large percentage of those whom are giving up on looking for a job. To avoid this watch jobs created vs unemployment.

Consider this, the government is already holding the economy back in the last two quarters (2011, 2012) the government has had a negative impact on GDP. An ATA prediction is that the economy will keep growing. Like the truck tonnage in North Dakota with all those Kenworth T800, Kenworth W900 and others moving equipment in Bismarck, Minot, Williston, Dickenson etc. The US truck tonnage had a 3 – 4 % growth in 2012. The ATA is predicting truck tonnage at 3 % in future. Trucks and new truck purchases indicate more than just whether we will see a good used truck market. “Trucking has predicted  7 of the last 10 recessions”  “and missed none.”

An interesting change was noted in truck sales, large truck load fleets are growing. Small truck companies are trading two used trucks for one truck.

The truck driver situation is also a new model, in 2005 the truck driver turnover rate was 136% vs 88% the turnover rate in 2011.

Interesting to note, on those new truck driver hires? After the first 90 days the new truck driver turnover rate was cut in half .

In 2011 trucks were seeing fewer miles which translates into less income for drivers. Consider this, in 2011 truck drivers put no more miles on their truck then they were putting on in 1996.

Impact of things like new fuel? Studies by truck companies Swift/Warner. One pact was all the issues related to running the new fuel, engines, economy etc.  Other impact in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 truck operation? CSA consequence in the adding of inexperienced drivers to truck fleets. Because they start with nice clean truck driving records. However the lack of truck experience is impacting companies at the truck level, the questions range from repairs, engine performance, body damage, collision consequences to other choices new truck operators make vs experienced truck drivers make.

For updates on Twitter from the ATA economist follow Bob at :@ATAEconBob

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