The State of Freight in Alabama and the Southeastern U.S.

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Alabama freight transportation has been the lifeblood of major industries throughout the South Eastern United States. Alabama Trucking, an affiliate of the American Trucking Association, documented what this impact across the south looks like by highlighting the data around freight companies in Alabama. Specifically, in 2019, Alabama trucking businesses represented nearly 110,000 jobs, with trucker wagesover $5.4 billion overall. 

How Ocean Congestion Is Leading to Increased Strain on Port of Mobile

Alabama motor carriers are feeling the pressure as increased strain is being put on ports all around the state, particularly in Mobile. As highlighted by Alabama Political Reporter, ocean line bottlenecks have been causing significant disruptions. The port of Mobile has seen unprecedented levels of containerized cargo growth. In 2021, ocean cargo volumes climbed to a record 502,623 TEUs. This is an estimated increase of nearly 19 percent volumes reported the year before and is leaving trucking companies in Alabama scrambling to compensate for overflow.

OTR Trucking From Other Nearby Ports, Including Port of Savannah, Is Causing Tighter Capacity

Alabama freight has recently seen a tightening of capacity and driver availability as many ports and neighboring distribution center warehouses continue to struggle to handle the overflow. As highlighted by Talk Business & Politics, ocean container shipping rates have increased across nearly all markets by more than 10 times what they were before the onset of COVID-19. As the overflow and rerouting from other ports and areas continue, the capacity crunch will only become tighter and more strained across the supply chain network. 

Approaching the Months of Severe Weather in the Spring Will Stimulate Additional Strains in the Southeast

Trucking companies in Alabama must also deal with seasonal weather concerns and disruptions. For the past 18 months, the Port of Savannah has had recordnumbers of unloaded containers at its docks. Meanwhile, ports and freight companies in Alabama are struggling to contend with an overflow for neighboring ports and rerouted ships from more crowded ports. And all of this is coming to a breaking point just in time for severe seasonal weather to arrive.

E-Commerce Expansion Continues and Causes Even More Strain

Thanks to the rising push of e-commerce shipping and more innovative sales opportunities, freight companies in Alabama have been busy, even before the pandemic hit. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted Alabama is home to 49,260 truck drivers, including general truck drivers, light truck, and heavy haul drivers. The differences are simply a matter of mode, and those differences all help avoid further capacity crunches as e-commerce expansion continues. According to Forbes, e-commerce rose to nearly $469.2 billion in the U.S. in 2021, and that growth will most likely continue. As with many other states in the south, most of these transportation companies are small, locally-owned, dry van and trucking companies in Alabama that may struggle under the additional strain of the trucking slowdown and backlog. It’s the classic struggle of owner-operators trying to find the best loads for their assets too.

Port Authorities Are Actively Pursuing New Deconsolidation Options, Including Popup Warehouses/Container Yards

As pressures continue to mount and congestion grows at an alarming rate, innovative changes continue to take hold. Many trucking companies in Alabama are improving logistics and scheduling for their drivers. The issue is also growing in neighboring Georgia. According to the gCaptain’s recent report, the Port of Savannah has implemented several capacity improvements, and “pop-up” container yards, warehouse centers, freight terminals, and distribution centers have risen to help unclog the ports and trucking lanes. 

Market Housing Growth Will Also Play Into Demand for OTR Trucking and Heavy Haul

As recently highlighted by GeorgiaTrend, Georgia’s homebuilding industry faired well in 2020 despite the pandemic, and experts predict that the market will do even better in 2022 and for a few years still to come. Home prices have risen, and rock-bottom mortgage rates have helped fuel a housing boom. And those not buying new homes are improving their current homes and investing more money into them. These trends have opened a new niche need among truck drivers as Alabama’s wide-load permit requests have increased as more homes are being built, moved, and upgraded.

Overall Trucking Wages Are on the Increase

Like many other freight and transportation-related industries today, trucking companies in Alabama are facing a heated debate over driver rates and fair wages. Increases in payments and rates are expected, with more providers opting for a per-hour rather than per-mile payment model. Managing freight services and maintaining profitable operations will require shipping companies to consider these wage increases carefully.

Stay Ready for Change in the Southeast and Across the U.S. With AMX Logistics

Understanding the picture in the South Eastern area of the country can help shed light on the rest of the nation as recovery from pandemic-related disruptions continues across the country. As trucking companies in Alabama and other regional areas work to combat continual supply chain bottlenecks and backlogs, changes are being made to how freight transportation is handled across many Southern states. Contact AMX Logistics today to see how freight companies in Alabama can overcome current challenges within the supply chain today.

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