After a year of uncertainty and instability in the market created by COVID-19 and a global shutdown, we are starting to see signs of a return to normalcy. Over the past 8 weeks there has been a gradual decline in COVID-19 cases nationally. According to Bloomberg business, “retail gasoline sales rose last week to just 1% below year-ago levels, just before regional lockdowns brought fuel consumption to a crawl.”
This week the United States passed 500,000 Covid-19 related deaths, a devastating milestone. While we continue our fight against this global pandemic, there are signs that things will get better sooner rather than later. Today the FDA endorsed Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. This is welcomed news for the fight against Covid-19 and critical step in getting back to a sense of normalcy. With this endorsement this now brings a third vaccine to the U.S. marketplace with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines already being rolled out.
After unprecedented gains in 2020, which were overshadowed by COVID-19, many in the trucking industry are excited about the outlook for 2021. The trucking industry expects to see an increase in sectors such as final-mile delivery, contracting, home improvement, and overall E-commerce. The American Trucking Associations, Chief Economist Bob Costello says, “I think freight will remain decent in 2021. On the good side, the vaccine will help return to ‘normal,’ which means sectors that are currently hurting like services and manufacturing can bounce back”. This is great news for an industry that at the start of this pandemic in 2020 saw sales of Class 8 trucks fall by 24.3% in the first quarter, and 51.2% in the second quarter.
The number of coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country and many major cities and states begin to consider large scale lockdowns. Despite this, many goods are continuing to fill warehouses, along with shelves being restocked at many retailers in preparation for the 2020 holiday season. According to CNBC, “The National Retail Federation said it expects holiday sales during November and December to rise between 3.6% and 5.2% year over year.” Holiday sales last year reported 4% growth in 2019 from the prior year.
As the votes roll in for the presidential election, another important vote took place yesterday. In California, residents voted on Prop 22. According to Business Insider, “Proposition 22 is a November ballot measure that aims to exempt ride-sharing and food-delivery firms from AB5, a California gig worker law that forces Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees.” After an enormous effort by “Gig Firms” to prevent AB5 from impacting their workforce the votes are in. According to Transportation Topics, “Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride-hailing and delivery services spent $200 million in a winning bet to circumvent California lawmakers and the courts to preserve their business model by keeping drivers from becoming employees eligible for benefits and job protections. The titans of the so-called gig economy bankrolled the most expensive ballot measure in state history, which was decided Nov. 3 with 58% of more than 11 million voters choosing to keep drivers classified as independent contractors able to set their own hours.” This landmark decision has enabled these companies to remain in California without having to re-label their drivers as employees.
Over the past few months, there has been a drastic increase in U.S. shale producers’ race to acquire drilling permits from the Federal Government. This is due to the upcoming November presidential elections and concerns that a win by Joe Biden could mean a crackdown on oil and gas exploration. According to Reuters, “As of August 24, producers have received 974 permits for new wells on federal land in the Permian, compared with 1,068 for all last year and 265 in 2018, according to data firm Enverus. In the 90 days up till August 24, producers received 404 permits in the Permian, compared with 225 and 11 The scramble for permits comes due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”