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                            Trucking News: Employment, Vaccine Update, FedEx, and More

                            Trucking employment at an all-time high

                            Not to be lost in January’s astounding jobs report: trucking employment reached an all-time high.

                            For-hire trucking added 7,500 workers and “truck transportation” employment topped 1,549,200 last month. Pre-pandemic, the highest number of jobs in the sector was 1,540,200 in June 2019. But both December 2021 and January 2022 came in more than that, and with revisions in November and December, the sector has added 11,600 jobs since November.

                            Another notable number: The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 4%, above the median forecast of 3.9%. The slight increase means that more people were looking for work. The question now is whether they’ll come to transportation.

                            Schneider: “A lot of momentum” on pricing in 2022

                            Schneider National executives expect supply-demand dynamics that helped the company grow operating profits some 70% in 2021 to last well into 2022, giving the carrier plenty of pricing power.

                            President and CEO Mark Rourke told analysts that Schneider is “carrying a lot of price momentum into the year contractually.” Truckload revenues jumped 11% year over year to $523.6 million, propelled by dedicated business. Logistics revenues surged 46% to $547.5 million, driven by growth of the Schneider FreightPower platform, the company said.

                            OOIDA: End the vaccine mandates for cross-border drivers

                            The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent letters to President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for truck drivers to be exempted from the countries’ cross-border vaccination requirements.

                            The vaccination policies disregard the economic contributions of the trucking industry and overlook the basic operating procedures of the profession, OOIDA said, adding that drivers spend most of their time alone.

                            In the U.S. letter, OOIDA noted that the U.S. Department of Labor said truck drivers were exempted from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard released in November. OSHA’s guidance said the requirements would not apply to truck drivers who do not occupy vehicles with other individuals as part of their work duties.

                            Canada’s mandate, which requires U.S. truckers to show proof of vaccination before entering the country, went into effect Jan. 15. The U.S. mandate, which requires foreign cross-border truckers to be vaccinated, started Jan. 22.

                            Swoosh goes the Sole Train

                            Nike’s shift toward a faster, more direct-to-consumer supply chain includes a dedicated rail line called the “Sole Train.” In August, the shoe and apparel giant secured dedicated Los Angeles-to-Memphis rail service connecting the L.A.-Long Beach port complex with the company’s omnichannel distribution centers in Tennessee.

                            At that time, it took Nike roughly 80 days to get goods from Asia to North America, which is double pre-pandemic transit times. About 43% of Nike apparel and footwear is made in Vietnam, where pandemic shutdowns cost the company nearly 10 weeks of production last year.

                            Since 2017, Nike has been reorienting its sales and distribution strategy around “local business, on a global scale” through direct-to-consumer sales and company stores. Over the past three years, Nike has pulled out of about 50% of its wholesale accounts.

                            FedEx partners with HBCUs

                            FedEx is partnering with eight historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to build a pipeline of logistics and supply chain professionals.

                            The inaugural class of the Student Ambassador Program will have 16 students and include Mississippi Valley State University, Jackson State University, Fayetteville State University, LeMoyne-Owen College, Lane College, Tennessee State University, Paul Quinn College and Miles College. FedEx President and Chief Operating Officer Raj Subramaniam said it’s part of an ongoing commitment to HBCUs, including a $5 million donation in 2021.

                            Beginning March 1, the group will meet regularly with FedEx executives for insight, career guidance and mentorship. While logistics will be a part of the curriculum, FedEx said the broader focus will be to educate the students for careers after college.

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