First Quarter Results Show Strengthening Trucking Industry

If the presence of empty store fronts in shopping malls and downtown retail districts has been a bit alarming, so, too has the number of company failures in the United States trucking industry. The complete collapse of consumer spending has transformed numerous industries, and the shipping industry in 2012 finds itself much more compact and and restrained than it was just a half-decade ago before the recession. Nevertheless, consumer spending is slowly getting back on track and trucking companies are slowing finding themselves back in the black, easier able to maintain their operations and defy closure or failure.

Strong Growth Through the First Quarter of 2012

It's no surprise that the commercial shipping industry finds itself on much better footing at the close of the first quarter of 2012. Unemployment numbers across the United States have dipped well below their all-time highs of 2009 and 2010, going below even 7 percent in many states throughout the midwestern and northeastern regions of the country. Trucking jobs have picked up in this areas, and in most locations nationwide, and the increase in business has helped to stabilize troubled companies and bring the biggest trucking companies back toward sustained profitability.

Throughout the first quarter of 2012, the number of commercial shipping company failures dropped significantly. Just a year earlier, in the first quarter of 2011, 290 companies with more than 13 commercial shipping fleet vehicles went under; this year, that number dropped to just 160 companies with the same number of vehicles. The industry still has a pretty significant recovery to endure, as 160 failures are still 160 too many, but the steep decrease bodes well for smaller companies and those who have managed to maintain their assets during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Remaining Companies Have a Strong and Positive Outlook Going Forward

Even as the economic recovery itself proceeds at what should be considered a snail's pace at best, virtually every economic expert and forecaster agrees that consumers and their commercial counterparts have survived the worst of the downturn. From here, things will get better--even if it means they'll get better very, very slowly. For the commercial shipping industry, this means that the number of trips will only go up, as profits tend to increase over the next several quarters and even years.

Those companies which have become well-versed in the kind of belt-tightening it takes to stay afloat in this kind of economy will likely find it much easier to survive as this slow recovery continues to evolve and slowly return consumer spending to the levels it enjoyed several years ago. This is largely because the tough decisions have already been made, the hardest cuts to jobs and trips have already been enacted, and from here, it's merely about waiting out the storm and taking every advantage as it comes.

The companies who managed to survive this downturn, even those with meager profits and alarming balance sheets, should proudly declare victory, albeit a cautious one. Those companies should look forward to moderately better times ahead as the upward trend continues in consumer spend, retail hiring and distribution, and the inherent need for more products to be distributed via commercial shipping to more places. With the right amount of cautious optimism and deliberate spending, companies in the industry can soon resume normal operation and breathe a collective sigh of relief as demand for their services slowly returns to where it was in 2005 and 2006, before the complete collapse of economic and commercial shipping fortunes.

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