The transportation industry has long been a staple of the American economy. As we look ahead to forecast what 2014 will hold for the transportation industry, it is equally important to consider what the year will hold for our cities and country economically. It is important to remember that the transportation industry is driven directly by the success of retail and manufacturing. This being considered, taking a look at the global, national, and local economy becomes an imperative step in forecasting how transportation will fare in the coming year.
The outlook for the U.S. economy in 2014 is much more uplifting than in the past years. Experts expect a bull market, unemployment rates are slowly dropping to under 8%, and our national deficit will slightly decrease. Although the government will continue to under-invest in the transportation industry (only .6% of their annual budget, which is minimal when one considers that 10% of the U.S. GDP is related to transportation), it should still be a profitable year for transportation professionals. Overall, the forecast for 2014 is positive, with growth in gross regional product, income and employment continuing at a slightly increased rate.
Trucking continues to be the dominant mode of freight transportation in the United States. In 2012, trucks moved 9.4 billion tons of freight, which is equivalent to 68.5% of all domestic shipments. The trucking industry has an optimistic future ahead; a combination of low inflation, a growing housing market, a recovering stock market, and moderate fuel prices has helped the industry expand 10.3% from 2009, and it only continues to look even more positive. In April 2013 alone, the industry growth reached 1.2%. The trucking industry has such a positive outlook, that companies are desperately struggling to fill driver positions. Positions are in such high demand that drivers in training school are getting offered jobs before they are even certified!
The NTA (NorthAmerican Transportation Association) is looking positive, too, as we look to celebrate our 25th year. After building some economic momentum during 2012 and 2013, mostly due to improvements in the insurance market and new service offerings to members, industry experts are projecting that the NTA will really take flight in the coming years. NTA’s list of services is the envy of the industry – NTA carries 40% more services than any other trucking association, and their vendor partner rates are the lowest in the country.
To give back to the industry, for a limited time, NTA will waive ALL company membership fees for 2014 when a NEW company joins and enrolls in one of our authorized Vendor Partner Programs. We are also giving a free one year membership to each new member driver, who has e-mail, in the National Motorist Association (NMA), where they can receive one-on-one help with fighting any ticket they get. To kick the New Year off, here is a list of some of the current programs, services and offers at NTA.
Occupational Accident Coverage: The NTA will provide any carrier FREE random drug and alcohol testing through its Nationally Accredited program for all owner operators enrolled in our occupational accident program. Some limitations apply, so call the NTA for more information (562-279-0557).
Roadside Assistance: The NTA is now offering a new 24/7/365 Unlimited Emergency Roadside Assistance plan for all heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Members can now avoid hefty bills when they breakdown in the middle of the night in Podunk, USA. Some of the benefits include towing, flat tire repair, tire replacement, mobile mechanic, battery assistance and much more. Save $100 by joining through the NTA website (www.ntassoc.com).
Independent Contractor Issues: This business model of transportation is growing faster than ever before – and so is the war against companies who utilize independent contractors. NTA has long recognized this fact and this year one of our new vendors, Relevant Business Solutions, will assist our member companies in keeping their owner operator practices current by providing them relevant, up-to-date information on the status of the numerous and various laws and regulations pertinent to the independent contractor model (you will have access to 25 federal and 25 state informational sources). NTA members can join from our website (www.ntassoc.com).
Cargo Theft: The upcoming year looks to be a decent one for the local transportation industry. Therefore, you can expect cargo theft to keep up with the times, as well. Billions of dollars a year are lost to cargo theft. So, this year, to help our members protect themselves from this threat, NTA has aligned with CargoNet, the leading cargo theft prevention and recovery network. CargoNet members benefit from an extensive law enforcement network of roadside enforcement officers at nearly 300 inspection facilities in more than 30 states and more than 120,000 officers and agents spanning more than 9,000 agencies in the United States and Canada. NTA members will be able to join from our website (www.ntassoc.com).
Transportation Attorneys: We are now bringing in the Alden Law Group of Ohio for our Midwest and Eastern members. Alden Law was founded in 1975. They represent local and national bus, motor carriers (small and large), shippers, warehousing companies, brokers, new motor carriers entering into the business, and existing carriers dealing with safety issues such as tickets and Data Q’s. Alden Law Group are members of the Transportation Lawyers Association, Conference of Freight Counsel, Ohio Trucking Association, Dump Truck Carriers Conference and Ohio State Bar Association.
Transportation Jobs: NTA is fortunate to be associated with three experienced schools in transportation-related services: California State University at Long Beach, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, and Columbus State Community College. We often receive inquiries from people looking for a job or from employers looking to fill positions. We are pleased to now offer a searchable resume database for individuals and employers at the new Industry Employment System. So, now NTA can help you find a job (or workers)!
In conclusion, trucking professionals can look to 2014 with cautious optimism. With hard work and ingenuity, it looks possible to have a very profitable and productive year, if you stay informed and stay compliant. Following all of the new rules will probably be the hardest thing you do all year, but with the NTA’s help, you can do it! For more information about the NTA, call us at 562-279-0557 or visit www.ntassoc.com. Happy New Year!! And like I always say, until next month, “Drive Safe – Drive Smart!”