The global supply chain crisis is far from abating as multiple factors are escalating the issue in international markets. From the traffic jams in the seas to the enormous number of backlogs, many problems have contributed to this economic calamity. The latest one? The United States is short tens of thousands of truck drivers, and this is adding to the supply chain debacle, says one trade economist.
Truck Drivers? Please Help Us
Speaking in an interview with 6 News, Bob Costello, the Chief Economist for the American Trucking Association (ATA), revealed that the U.S. needs approximately 80,000 truckers. Before the COVID-19 public health crisis, the country required about 61,000. The economist forecasts that the industry must hire roughly one million drivers to replace the aging workforce over the next decade.
Costello blamed a broad array of factors for the truck driver shortage: the pandemic, age restrictions, pay, and infrastructure. Some of these hurdles are being addressed as several truck driving schools nationwide are reporting an influx of applications. Some big trucking companies are so desperate for employees that many of them are paying ultra-competitive wages. For example, a transportation firm in Texas is compensating truckers as much as $14,000 per week.
Despite companies increasing the number of “driver shortage” mentions in their corporate earnings calls, others disagree with the idea of a shortage of truck drivers. For example, quartz noted that the industry faces a retention setback, especially in a post-pandemic economy extending more employment opportunities that do not include 70-hour weeks and sleeping in parking lots.
The Great Resignation in America
Although Americans appear to have a weak opinion of the United States economy, they are confident in the labor market that millions of people are submitting their resignation letters to the human resources department. This trend that has dominated much of 2021 has been called “The Great Resignation” by market observers as more than 34 million people have left their positions.
According to the Department of Labor, 4.43 million individuals quit their jobs in September. This is up from 4.27 million in August, raising the quits rate as a percentage of the U.S. workforce to a record high of 3%. The main sectors involving people quitting in droves are generally frontline: leisure and hospitality, retail, health services, and manufacturing. It is the southern region of the country that is witnessing a considerable portion of the resignations.
There is zero indication that the growing number of resignations will subside anytime soon. And this could be great news for workers as market conditions are tilted in their favor. ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollak recently told CNBC:
“You’re seeing an economy where leaders have rushed to adapt by raising wages, and followers slower to adapt, due to regulation or institutional arrangements, will be under enormous pressure to make changes to catch up. As they play catch-up, you’ll see more demand for workers, and exciting outside opportunities for workers who can quit.”
Do you want a job? The trucking industry is in desperate need for workers.
Much Ado About Stuffing?
A turkey that weighs between eight and 16 pounds costs 25 cents more per pound this year. Potatoes are up 1.7%, rolls are up 4.8%, and sauces and gravies are up 1.8%. Nearly every food item and ingredient for Thanksgiving dinners have increased, making this year’s holiday feast significantly more expensive.
According to the American Farm Bureau, a Thanksgiving dinner consisting of turkey and a wide range of side dishes will cost as much as 5% more in 2021 than last year. These annual meals have gone down in price for the last several years because of agricultural technology and innovation.
In 2021, many factors have led to today’s situation: a decade-low bird inventory, the global supply chain crisis, broad-based inflation, and output failing to satisfy demand. Curt Covington, senior director of institutional credit at AgAmerica, provided the best commentary about Thanksgiving 2021: “Just the cost of metal to put cranberries into a tin can has gone up.”
Surveys have found that rising price inflation has prompted many U.S. households to lower the number of guests attending these dinners and scale back the amount of food being served and imbibed. Americans are going to need a turkey wing and a prayer that Christmas dinners will be cheaper. But, hey, President Joe Biden thinks Americans would not trade this Thanksgiving for last year’s.
“But the bottom line is that I think that, and anyone who would prefer, as bad as things are in terms of prices, helping hurting families now, to trade this Thanksgiving for last Thanksgiving,” Biden told reporters at a recent news conference press conference at the United Nations’ COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
~ Read more from Andrew Moran.
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