Forecasts that 2009 would be a trying year for our industry proved to be painfully accurate.
We have seen many motor carriers look to consolidate with their competitors in a concerted effort to stay alive. In addition, the unemployment rate in our industry sector has become one of the highest in our nation’s economy.
This year doesn’t look any rosier. Continued out-of-control government spending and the accelerating debt will keep pressure on our struggling economy and the economies of our future generations. Although many expect a slow rebound midway into 2010, we can only hope that is true.
Due to the past problems, in 2009 there will continue to be a driver shortage because of drivers who left the industry believing they could not earn a living. These drivers will never return and the future driver’s pool looks dim. The depression of trucking rates and steamship line rates will continue with “price wars.”
This year will show a more educated and aware shipper who will press both the steamship line and the trucking industry for cheaper rates while insisting on the best logistics service and an improvement in customer service. Customer service will become more important as one of the chief complaints of the shipper is that no one answers the phone. As we all know this is to due to staff reductions in the name of “streamlining.”
Productivity on what business is left will continue to decline as steamship lines continue to put pressure on the terminal operators to reduce the expenses. This causes extended gate times and lost velocity. This spiral will also have a negative effect on the recovery of the economy.
It is imperative that all players in the port community, along with covernment agencies cooperate to make our ports more efficient and user friendly.