May 27, 2022

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Trucking association chief says industry at ‘edge of cliff’

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear argued on Tuesday that the slow return to work is “exacerbating the supply chain’s ability to meet demand.”

Speaking on “Mornings with Maria,” Spear explained the impact on the supply chain due to the “chronic shortage of talent,” which has led to cargo sitting unused and unloaded at U.S. ports.

He also noted that now truckers are moving more with fewer people and “even less equipment in many instances.”

“I think we are at the edge of a cliff right now,” Spear told host Maria Bartiromo. 

“I think a year of policies that have led us there generally stem from rewarding people not to return to work,” he continued, noting that he believes that has contributed to the “chronic shortage of talent, not just in trucking where we’re short 81,000 drivers, but across every sector of employment.”

Earlier this month it was revealed that the latest JOLTS report on job openings sits at 10.6 million in November after hitting a record 11.03 million the month before.  

Spear stressed that “everyone now is experiencing this slow return to work,” whether at the grocery store or when traveling by airplane, and noted that the situation is contributing to the supply chain crisis. 

INFLATION CALCULATOR: SEE HOW HIGHER PRICES ARE HITTING YOUR WALLET

“It’s really having an impact,” Spear told Bartiromo. “You are seeing that in 40-year high on inflation.” 

Last week, it was revealed inflation rose at the fastest pace in nearly four decades in December, as rapid price gains fueled consumer fears about the economy.

The consumer price index rose 7% in December from a year ago, according to a new Labor Department report released Wednesday, marking the fastest increase since June 1982, when inflation hit 7.1%. The CPI – which measures a bevy of goods ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents – jumped 0.5% in the one-month period from November.

Economists expected the index to show that prices surged 7% in December from the year-ago period, and 0.4% from the previous month. 

Price increases were widespread: Although energy prices fell 1.1% in December from the previous month, they’re still up 29.3% from last year. Gasoline, on average, costs 49.6% more than it did last year. Food prices have also climbed 6.3% higher over the year, while used car and truck prices – a major component of the inflation increase – are up 37.3%. Shelter costs, which make up nearly one-third of the total increase, jumped 0.4% for the month and 4.1% year-over-year, the fastest pace since February 2007.

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“We are all taking a pay cut in 2022 as a result of bad policies,” Spear argued on Tuesday.  

He warned that it could be at least three quarters before the situation is alleviated. 

“But it doesn’t have to be this hard or this long if you institute good policy, rather than just being perceived as doing something, you’ll move out of this COVID-induced rut a lot faster,” Spear continued, blasting the policies of the Biden administration. 

He also slammed vaccine mandates on Tuesday, which he argued is “adding additional headwind” to the industry that is “moving 72% of the domestic freight.”

“If you’re concerned about the supply chain, adding additional layers and mandates on top of that is not going to make it any easier,” Spear argued. 

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FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.