The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced a rulemaking process to amend truck broker contracting requirements, but small-business truckers are unhappy with the proposed timeline. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) has been scheduled for October 31, 2024, titled “Transparency in Property Carrier Broker Transactions.” The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) has been a strong critic of this proposal since its original introduction four years ago. The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) petitioned the FMCSA over four years ago to make changes aimed at “leveling” the playing field in broker-carrier contracting. The FMCSA has set a timeline for broker transparency rulemaking, but delays and disagreements continue to complicate the process.
West Coast Ports on Rebound
Just in time for the Holiday season, the supply chain is in a much better position than it was a year ago. Two of the nation’s largest ports on the Pacific Coast bounced back in September with strong container volume numbers. The Port of Los Angeles posted a 5.4% year-over-year increase, moving 748,440 20-foot-equivalent containers compared with 709,873 a year ago. The adjacent Port of Long Beach reported its strongest September on record, processing 829,429 containers, up 11.8% from the same month in 2022, and it marked the port’s first monthly year-over-year cargo increase in 14 months.[i]
Fuel prices: The gasoline index increased 2.1% in September, following a 10.6-percent increase in the previous month. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 0.6 percent in September.)[ii] The U.S. regular gasoline retail prices averaged $3.473 per gallon on 10/31/23 which is $-0.269 down from the average a year ago. And the retail diesel prices were $4.454 per gallon on average, $-0.863 down from one year ago.[iii]
Tonnage: The for-hire truck tonnage index fell 1.1% in September after decreasing 0.2% in August. “After hitting a bottom in April, tonnage increased in three of the previous four months, gaining a total of 2.2% before September’s drop,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, this freight market remains in flux…While it is likely a bottom has been hit in truck freight tonnage, there could still be choppy waters ahead as the freight market remains volatile.”[iv]
Economy:The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.7% over the last 12 months according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPI rose 0.4% in September after only rising 0.6% in August. The index for shelter was the largest contributor to the monthly all-items increase, followed by increases in the gasoline index, the energy index, and the food index. The CPI measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services.[v]
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