The freight industry is in disarray due to COVID-19, and it goes back to the very onset of the pandemic. From coast to coast, everyone in logistics is feeling the gravity of the situation as goods have become more and more difficult to transport as a result of the virus. There is a major shortage of drivers, a lack of trucks, and a string of natural disasters is causing even more displacement and chaos.
Not only is there not enough capacity to support industry movement, but also capacity has been consistently displaced for the last eight or nine months. For example, the winter storms that have had Texas shut down may be the single largest supply state disruption we’ve seen to date, creating a domino effect of problems in the way of logistics. Thousands of trucks waiting in Texas cannot get their shipments unloaded, and thousands are waiting to move their shipments out of the state as well.
A Widespread Problem
This widespread disruption is monumental, particularly on top of an already disrupted market, and the effects of such disruption, and this isn’t just affecting the freight industry. The effects trickle down leaving no industry untouched. Any business that sells items that must be transported is being affected by these issues. Shipping prices are being driven up exponentially due to the lack of drivers and vehicles, and there are no signs of things being straightened out anytime soon.
U.S. ports are backed up currently beyond anything we’ve ever imagined. Vessel after vessel anchored off the coast of Long Beach, CA are at a record high as they wait for their turn to offload their products. Hundreds of workers, and truck drivers, have contracted COVID-19, which is contributing to the shortages all around.
Furthermore, the trucking industry is primarily buoyed up by a workforce that is, in general, an aging one. Workers who are 50 and older face greater potential risks associated with contracting COVID-19, and many of them are not comfortable working in this climate. For hire trucking jobs are going to the highest bidder, and the truckers and vehicles available are disproportionate to the loads that need to be transported.
Ongoing Effects of Shortages
These shortages within the logistics industry are expected to persist, and no industry is immune to the cost increases that inevitably follow. Shipping prices will continue to be driven up, and all we can do is plan ahead, and foster healthy relationships within the transportation industry as much as possible while we ride this out.