There's a whole lot to chew on in today's edition of Overdrive Radio (embedded above and below for listening), chiefly comprised of a re-air the folks at owner-operator business services firm ATBS were kind enough to allow us to make of President Todd Amen's most recent semi-annual dissection of income and revenue averages, miles and more.
As Max Heine previously reported, the top line is that 2020 on the whole saw owner-operator income make a solid gain, cutting against the best prediction Amen thought he could make at the beginning of 2020 (we all know what happened to nearly all predictions shortly thereafter). For this year's dissection, Amen painted a particularly interesting picture of the numbers from last year, given what he likens to a three-to-five-year macroeconomic cycle squeezed into 12 months.
2020's lackluster beginning turned into an early-pandemic boom in March, the deepest of bottoms in April and May, then roaring back through the rest of the year and continuing to do so today for many.
[Related: No turning back: New era for direct freight]
He also detailed possible headwinds particularly for leased owner-operators and their fleet partners in the Biden administration's revival of Obama-era interest in pressure against the independent contractor model for self-employed people in general. Comparing the largest fleets' responses to the question of their level of worry over the independent contractor classification issue during the Trump years and now under Biden, ATBS found the level had doubled:
Largest fleets ATBS survey
The picture wasn't much different among the smaller fleet partners of ATBS who worked with owner-operators in lease agreements.
Smaller fleets ATBS survey
It hasn't taken long at all for the Biden administration to prove that the worries were founded. As reported last week, sitting in the administration's outline of an infrastructure plan was a full-throated endorsement of the "Protecting the Right to Organize Act" the House has passed, which would nationalize the problematic ABC independent contractor test. (The B portion of the test essentially bars independent contractor status from a contractor who's fundamentally in the same line of work as the company he/she's contracting to.)
Fundamentally, though abuses of the contractor model are real in many industries, including in trucking, owner-ops are owner-ops for a reason. Few want to be company drivers. ATBS presented its leased clientele with a hypothetical. Just what would they do if faced with removal of the option of leasing to a motor carrier? Very few said they'd go work as company drivers:
ATBS client survey
The "PRO" Act, as Amen added, is unlikely to pass muster in the Senate, and as I think the above poll shows – the owner-operator's here to stay, whatever comes. Take a listen:
Another taste of some of the economic and income data Amen goes through in the podcast: