On Thursday we noted that April orders for class 8 heavy trucks fell a staggering 73% year over year, and 44% from March – the worst order numbers on record as coronavirus shutdowns have put the trucking industry on the cusp of a “freight cliff” according to a FEMA report obtained by Politico.
Unsurprisingly, truck drivers have suffered an absolute bloodbath – losing approximately 88,300 jobs in April alone, according to Business Insider, which notes that it’s the largest single-month loss of trucking jobs on record (with records going back to 1990).
April wiped out all trucking employments gained during the past five years and a half years [sic], bringing the industry back to its employment numbers in November 2014.
The rest of the April jobs report, which was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 8, was similarly jarring. Some 20.5 million payrolls were cut in April, which is 25 times larger than the worst monthly decline seen during the recession in the late 2000s. –Business Insider
And while truck drivers are considered “essential” workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, a collapse in freight volumes – of which nearly 75% of are moved by truck – has resulted in the devastating loss of jobs as the economy remains at a standstill.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate is now 14.7% – the highest since the Great Depression as BI notes.
Problems were already there
According to industry data from Broughton Capital, the trucking industry was already in bad shape – with around 640 companies going bankrupt in the first half of 2019, an increase of more than 300% over 2018’s bankruptcies. According to the Institute of Supply Management, the 2019 trucking recession was due to the decline in manufacturing, which had contracted for several months last year.