What’s Happening to Trucking?

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truckingWhen deBanked examined the trucking industry in late 2022, the cost of trucks had shot up while margins were being squeezed. Since then major trucking firm Yellow Corp filed for bankruptcy, a bank in Iowa went belly up over bad trucking loans, Fox said that trucking had entered a Great Recession, and Freight Waves labeled trucking a “bloodbath.

In the Freight Waves story, it summed up the issue as “too many trucks and not enough freight to move.” Other trade publications have said the real issue is a shortage of truck drivers.

deBanked pulled some of the granular stats from acclaimed data source Bizminer to see what was happening under the hood.

For General Freight Trucking (over long distances), average revenues were down approximately 20% between 2018 and midway through 2023. For refrigerated trucking services, average revenues were down 24% over the same time period. This drop coincides with a rapid rise in inflation, which means that the dollars generated more recently have even less purchasing power than they did in 2018. For example, $1 million earned in 2018 would equate to $1.24 million earned in 2024. So if one’s revenue didn’t keep pace with that, or worse yet, dropped significantly from where it had been, then they would be worse off. That’s what’s happened to trucking.

Or as the lenders in the commercial finance industry have noticed, trucking has been a complicated business as of late. Between the compressed margins and potential risks, some have opted to suspend working with this segment to err on the side of caution. It’s a big business to step away from given its depth and impact. At last count, for example, 8.4 million people worked in the trucking industry, of which 3.5 million were truck drivers. So even if one doesn’t finance trucks or lend to trucking companies, just about every business there is still depends on trucks to ship and deliver supplies. So what’s happening to trucking affects everyone.

Last modified: April 10, 2024
Sean Murray

Category: Business Lending

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