NATSO on May 5 met with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to discuss NATSO’s recent letter, along with the other retail fuel trade groups, advocating for a waiver to hours of service rules for fuel haulers on account of current challenges to hiring truck drivers.
Allowing drivers to work more hours will reduce the number of trucks and drivers it takes to move the same amount of freight, while also preventing consumers from having to pay higher delivery fees as a result of the threat to consistent and fast delivery services.
The Washington Post is reporting that Biden Administration officials are hearing from a range of voices expressing concerns about labor shortage and inflation as the U.S. economy recovers from the pandemic.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has cautioned privately against overreacting to anecdotes of worker shortages, arguing that more data and time are needed before assuming they reflect a genuine problem in the American economy. Yellen has received briefings and memos on claims about worker shortages from administration economists.
"Typically, tight labor markets would correspond with wage growth at the bottom end of the income distribution as firms compete for workers. But economists and administration officials have yet to see that jump, suggesting the shortage is not a major problem," the article says.
White House officials are "carefully monitoring inflationary risks" amid reports of rising prices across sectors. The White House has sent talking points to administration officials to stress that any signs of inflation are "transitory" as part of the rapid economic recovery from the pandemic.
Yellen appeared to break with those talking points, suggesting Biden's spending proposals could lead to an overheating of the economy down the road that might require interest rates to rise.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell says inflation may pick up in the near-term, as supply chain bottlenecks force businesses to raise prices.
Reports that truckstops, convenience stores, restaurants and others cannot find adequate staffing have emerged throughout the country. The construction industry has sait it faces a shortage of 200,000 workers. Trucking industry groups also face major shortages.
A combination of supplemental federal unemployment insurance ($300/week sunsetting in September) as well as "other short term factors" such as fears about the pandemic and lack of available child care are causing the shortage, the article says.
Some states are beginning to come up with creative solutions to combat the labor market challenges.
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) said that by June 27 Montana will end its participation in the federal unemployment benefit program that provides an additional $300/week through September. On top of state benefits. Montana already offers a maximum individual unemployment benefit of $572/week, and with the federal bonus unemployed can collect the equivalent of $21.80/hour.
Montana also plans to issue regulations strengthening requirements so those collecting unemployment checks must show that they are able and available to work and actively looking for a job.
Gov. Gianforte says the state will also offer $1,200 to anyone who was collecting unemployment on May 4, gets a job, and keeps it for four weeks. Funding for this bonus will come from money Congress allotted to states in March under the Covid relief bill.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) recently issued an executive order requiring residents to prove that they are actively looking for work to receive unemployment benefits. The Arizona Department of Economic Security will begin reinforcing the requirement beginning the week of Sunday, May 23.
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