According to American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear, the trucking industry as a whole is playing a key role in boosting the nation’s economy during this challenging time, and will be working with a White House commission to find necessary steps to take for the country to heal from this pandemic’s effects.
“On the transportation grouping, trucking is well-represented,” Spear said. “It’s got a number of carrier CEOS…that have a lot of presence around the country, and understand the economy from that perspective–not just as a [nation], but [at] a regional, state, and local level.”
Earlier this spring, Trump announced a list of many industry leaders that would help restart the economy as the pandemic begins to ease. These trucking companies include UPS Inc., FedEx Corp., J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., and YRC Worldwide. These are some of the largest for-hire carriers in the country.
“They’re going to give us some ideas,” Trump said. He also mentioned, by name, that FedEX CEO Fred Smith and UPS CEO David Abney would be part of his administration’s Great American Economic Revival Initiative.
“I am honored to serve our president and the nation in this capacity, representing the trucking industry and joining four ATA member company CEOs, to bridge this crisis to a safe, speedy, and full recovery,” Spear said. “Just as they have during the mitigation and response efforts, truckers will be at the forefront as we revive our economy’s engine and get our country moving again. No industry will be more vital, and we embrace the opportunity to play a leading role in this national effort.”
Currently, economists are explaining that the United States has officially reached a recession with unemployment claims hitting 22 million within a span of three-weeks. Bob Costello, Chief Economist at ATA, is also saying that gross domestic product has the potential drop by 20% in the second quarter of the year–on an annual basis.
Returning the U.S. economy to normal will have to take place in stages, Spear said.
“It’s really an opportunity to help shape what this is going to look and feel like,” he explained. “Not just now, as we come out of the crisis, but how long that bridge needs to be from here to the recovery and how we do it safely.”
The process has already begun, but getting the economy back to a healthy place will take time, he explained further in a late April interview.
“It’s already stated. It started last week with the initial guidance that came out. There was a lot of talk last week on our first call with the president about testing, a lot of talk about staggering it. So, low-risk states and regions first and ending with the highest-risk states and regions last, and logistics is going to be a very important part of that, because we are essentially the glue that pastes all those groups together.”
Spear also said the regrowth could take a few months, but that the help from the trucking industry will help things move more smoothly.
“These are all people that will come to these calls not just identifying problems, but proposing concrete solutions and also putting a lot of resources towards getting these solutions done,” he said.
Other companies named by Trump to participate in the economy-building task force include JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Apple Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp., United Airlines Inc., and many others. Trump’s inclusion of trucking industry CEOs is appreciated by Spear, who said while he is grateful ATA members will be working to help the nation’s economy heal, there are still many challenges regarding fleets’ and drivers’ abilities to perform right now, and his team is working to find solutions.
“We’ve worked at the state level with the governors, especially in high-risk states, to shape policies that are not adverse to interstate commerce,” Spear said. “We need public rest stops open. We need the parking, the ability to rest, [the ability to] use the restroom, [to continue] working with our private truck stops to ensure their position, and [to continue] making available food. There are going to be bumps and bruises along the way. This is not easy. As roadblocks get thrown up in front of us, it’s our job to knock them down.”