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Recovery on the back burner

As recently as April, manufacturing still looked mostly bad, notes the latest weekly roundup from Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations. April output grew for autos, paper, wood products and nonmetallic mineral products. It shrunk for furniture, primary metal and fabricated metal products. From a year ago, manufacturing production was down 14 percent in April. Inventory still has a ways to go before demand strengthens. The combined manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade inventories dwindled ...

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Some positive trends for the first quarter

First quarter figures from ATBS show a few encouraging notes. Among all hauling segments, clients of the Denver-based owner-operator accounting firm saw average income rise from $3,892 in January to $4,074 in March, due in large part to low fuel prices. Flatbedders had a steady rise in miles, from 7,216 in January to 8,303 in March. ATBS President Todd Amen says their lot has improved, but they’re still struggling. “I don’t think we are into any ...

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Trucking meets swine flu in a variety of ways

Reports on trucking and swine flu have proliferated this week. Many media outlets picked up the Knoxville, Tenn., newspaper interview with Professional Drivers Medical Depots (cited here earlier), but other angles have followed. First, two on the lighter side: Everitt Mickey, one of the writers who contributes to International Trucks’ Life on the Road blog, cautions readers to take the alarmist news accounts with a grain of salt: “The business of the news media, as they practice ...

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Truckers and swine flu

News coverage of the spreading swine flu has pointed out the role of air travelers in spreading contagious disease. If you’re thinking that truckers, likewise being a highly mobile group, could help the swine flu bugs get around, you’re thinking like Dr. John McElligot, CEO of Professional Drivers Medical Depots.      He has put his truck stop-based clinics on "high alert" regarding the spread of swine flu. Two of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company’s five clinics are ...

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Topics for coming webinars

Well over 100 owner-operators turned out Wednesday evening for Overdrive’s first webinar. Kevin Rutherford, our Dollars & Sense columnist and the host of ATBS Trucking Business & Beyond on Sirius XM, had a lot to say about “Surviving a difficult economy.” The overall reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and that’s saying a lot, coming from a group that doesn’t mind sounding off about anything that rubs them the wrong way.   Listeners viewing the free web presentation also ...

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Landstar rides out the storm

When the economy’s in a tailspin, some observers like to speculate that the owner-operator is about to become an endangered species. Indeed, many contractors have fallen out in recent months, but there’s no doubt about the potential for good operators to make money. The biggest owner-operator fleet, Landstar Systems, recently announced it earned $14 million in the first quarter. Granted, that’s 41 percent less than a year ago, due to decreased revenue in a serious ...

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Smile for the traffic camera

Traffic cameras are being used for more than red light monitoring these days. The Wall Street Journal gives an excellent update on how cities are increasingly using them to catch speeders and others by way of reading license plates.   The core app of red-light spying is still popular. And profitable. Tiny Schaumburg, Ill., put a camera at a mall and issued $1 million in citations for red-light runners over three months, The Journal reports.   There’s ...

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When oil abounds, prices fall

Plug the low price of diesel and gasoline into the supply-and-demand formula, and it tells you supplies are plentiful. True enough, and they’re getting more plentiful by the day. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories jumped 6.2 million barrels from the previous week, almost twice what was expected, according to Wednesday’s report from the U.S. Energy Department. That’s thanks to the anemic world economy, which is requiring less energy. At this week’s NATSO Show 2009 in Nashville, truck ...

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