Logistics, transportation industry optimistic on economy; tariff concerns persist

by Jeff Della Rosa (JDellaRosa@nwabj.com) 286 views 

Logistics and transportation providers are optimistic about the outlook of the U.S. economy and their business in the fourth quarter as logisticians salaries increased by the 10th highest rate of any career, reports show.

Median salary of logisticians increased 21.7% to $63,960 in 2017, from $52,572 in 2016, according to a recent report on pay. In the report, Finder.com determined salary using median weekly earnings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the careers that are most likely to offer pay increases. Finder.com used weekly earnings data as it included male and female comparisons.

Logistics workers had the 10th highest increase in salary, but veterinarian salaries increased by the highest percentage at 37.5%. Of the careers with the largest percentage increase in salaries, logisticians had third highest median salary, behind veterinarians and producers and directors, with median salaries of $95,680 and $77,428, respectively.

Arkansas has 1,860 people employed as logisticians, and with 1,400 in Northwest Arkansas, the metro area has the fifth highest concentration of the jobs of any U.S. metro area, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The California-Lexington Park, Md., metro has the highest concentration of logisticians of any U.S. metro area.

While logistics and transportation providers are optimistic about the economy, they are concerned about labor shortages, regulations and trade tariffs, according to a survey conducted by transportation technology provider TCompanies Inc. It showed that 73.7% of respondents were optimistic about the economy, 64.4% plan to hire more staff, 74.9% project revenue to rise and 67.2% expect profits to increase over the next three months.

The following were the respondents’ top three obstacles to growth over the next quarter.
• Labor shortage, 43.6%
• Regulations, 18.6%
• Trade tariffs, 17.4%

Also, respondents were concerned about inflation, with 58% looking to increase prices and 38% planning to increase wages in the fourth quarter.

“The survey numbers confirm what we have been feeling for some time in the logistics and transportation industry. Overall, things are going very well,” said Tom Burke, CEO of TCompanies. “And while there is a great amount of optimism, there are cautionary concerns with inflationary pressures as a majority plan to increase pricing and pass costs on to customers in the next three months.”

The U.S. economy looks to be ignoring trade wars concerns, according to the Cass Freight Index Report for August. The indexes for freight shipments and expenditures rose 6% and 16.7%, respectively, in August, from the same month in 2017. Investors have been concerned about rising inflation or interest rates as the indexes continue to increase. Demand has exceeded capacity in most modes of transportation, and has put pressure on prices to increase in those modes and led to concerns of inflation on the economy.

A recent report on U.S. port activity shows retail shippers continue to import goods in advance of new tariffs levied on products made in China, according to Logistics Management. The Port Tracker report, which was released by the National Retail Federation and maritime consultant firm Hackett Associates, shows the amount that U.S. retail container ports handled rose 5.6% to 1.9 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in July. The amount of volume was a monthly record and is also a 2.8% increase from June. In August, the volume was expected to rise to another record, up 4.8% to 1.92 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units, from the same month in 2017.

U.S. Xpress CEO Eric Fuller said some retailers have started to stock their inventories earlier in advance of the holiday season, according to Freightwaves.com. Peak season for trucking could start as soon as October, instead of November, because of capacity concerns, he said. Fuller also said some were buying to avoid more expensive orders in part related to tariffs.

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