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A “Thank You” to Truckers: The Unspoken Heroes of the Pandemic

Why America is Thanking Truckers During the Coronavirus

Truck drivers have been working around the clock to help support the shifting demand for food, medical supplies, and other essential items during the Coronavirus pandemic. The government instruction to stay at home whenever possible, has had a sizable impact on the American economy. One result of so many people staying home, and non-essential businesses being closed, is that demand for certain items like retail products have been in steady decline. This has created an issue of one-way supply-chain flow, meaning that freight companies can easily load and fill 18 wheelers all the way up at manufacturing hubs across America, but don’t have anything to pick up once they arrive at smaller towns and cities. This causes trucks to be half-empty, or totally empty on their return trips, creating huge efficiency losses for shippers and freight companies. This has truckers working longer, harder hours— something that Americans desperately need, are respectful of, and thankful for.

People Everywhere Take Note of Trucker’s Contributions

American citizens have been reaching out all over the country to express their gratitude and support for everything that truck drivers have done to aid the country in this difficult time. Many social media users are using the hashtag “thankatrucker” to reach the drivers on the road with positive words, or offers to repay the truckers for their hard work. While most drivers have experienced increased difficulty on the road as a result of many restaurants and rest stops being closed, there are many establishments that are doing their part to make sure truckers can continue to work in relative comfort. Those that have taken steps to ethically resume operation with COVID-19 in mind are using social media to tell truckers that they’re open for business, and in some cases, hoping to repay truck drivers for all of their hard work with free food and shelter.

The Iowa Motor Truck Association provided 1,000 complimentary boxed lunches for truck drivers last week, at two different weigh stations on I-80. The distribution was set up as a “drive through/drive by” scenario to comply with CDC guidelines, enabling the Truck Association to do some good for truckers at work without risking worsening the pandemic. Texas residents offered free takeaway bar-b-que to truckers in their area, serving dozens until their supplies ran out. On Interstate 40 in Jackson, Tennessee, local residents handed out box lunches with sandwiches to truckers on the road.

What Truckers Do to Keep America Going 

Most people have seen first-hand the impact that the pandemic has had on the supplies at their local grocery. Stockpiling behavior has resulted in an absence of non-perishable food, sanitation items, and toilet paper on many supermarket shelves— leaving some people who didn’t make it to the store in time low on essential supplies. This has greatly changed how the American supply chain functions, as there’s suddenly a huge increase in demand for emergency medical supplies like masks, ventilators, and soap. These items need to be transported from manufacturers to medical treatment centers, while the raw materials required (paper, plastic, and alcohol, for example) need to reach the factory in time for production to resume on track.

The Truck Driver Experience During COVID-19 

This has resulted in huge changes to the trucker way of life. The Department of Transportation has taken a great number of steps to ensure that truckers get to stay on the road, which include allowing drivers delivering essential supplies to stay on the road for longer periods of time. This is great for Americans, but dangerous for truck drivers overall, unfortunately. Many truck drivers don’t feel as if they have a choice in the matter and are very concerned about contracting COVID-19.

In an email, one truck driver stated that the pandemic “has been pretty difficult for [him] as a truck driver because truck stops aren’t stocked with cleaning supplies. Because he comes into contact with people all over the western United States, his anxiety level has been growing since he’s down to his last half-bottle of hand sanitizer.” According to a study by the American Center for Disease Control, 38% of truckers don’t have health insurance, meaning that it’s likely they’ll receive inferior care compared to those who have insurance and potentially suffer significant financial hardship if the contract the virus.

How You Can Help America

The country is still facing a national shortage of truck drivers, making it a perfect time to do your part and become an owner/operator. If you’ve lost your job due to the Coronavirus, it might be worth considering helping America stay afloat by joining the freight industry. Unemployment is at an all time high for recent decades, making it especially important for the labor force to shift towards industries that are thriving in the epidemic.

If you’re interested in getting started as an owner/operator, contact us to get on the road to financial independence. If you’re interested in helping other truck drivers, don’t forget national truck driver appreciation week, and make sure to reach out to the truck drivers in your community— many are in need of food, shelter, or just good conversation. From all of us at Mission Financial, thank you to all the truck drivers at work in Americ

Why Walmart is Hiring a Surge of New Drivers

According to a press release by shopping giant Walmart, the company is expanding their truck driver positions by 500 this year, mainly on the West and East Coast. This is great news for truck drivers in general, but it’s still unclear as to whether increased hiring is a trend we’ll see across the country. The presence of the Coronavirus in the United States has caused a great deal of turbulence in the freight industry over the course of last month, resulting in an increased demand for drivers in some areas, alongside increased complications for the drivers that are managing to stay on the road.

A Surge in Online Shopping

As some economists have predicted, the government instruction for American citizens to stay home whenever possible, and with many states calling for the shutdown of non-essential businesses, Americans have been turning to the internet for their shopping needs. Walmart’s decision to hire more drivers is a direct result of an increase in online orders, according to the retailer, a trend that’s grown persistently in recent years.

The company began dialing up their driver program last year, hiring 1,400 drivers to meet a 3% increase in same-store sales. All of this is good news for truckers, especially because Walmart has taken steps to ensure that their jobs are competitive with other trucking jobs on the market. According to Walmart, their average driver salary is all the way up to $87,500 per year, a result of their all-in rate per mile being close to $0.89. This is a far-and-away a much better deal than the national average salary for truck drivers, which is $43,680 per year. Only 10% of truck drivers earn more than $64,000 per year, making Walmart’s reported salary a bold play for attracting truck drivers. This will surely result in Walmart’s new positions being filled, but it’s difficult to predict whether it will ever make a dent in the national driver shortage America has been facing.

What It’s Like to Drive for Walmart

You can read testimonials from Walmart drivers on their website. One of which describes Robert Sullivan, who’s been driving a truck for twenty years, and working for Walmart for the last two. He describes a breadth of small perks that, for him, really add to his enjoyment of driving for the company. Predictable home time and no-touch freight are some of the best perks of the position, alongside small bonuses like company-paid dry-cleaning services and paid rest breaks, which can make a big difference when it comes to enjoyment on the job. Walmart has recently revamped their onboarding process, making it even more efficient for new drivers to join their fleet.

America Needs More Drivers

There have been reports of large employee demographics being at risk of infection for Coronavirus, which has had a large impact on America’s economic structure. The unemployment rate in America is at a record-breaking 6.5 million at its most recent estimate— nearly double what it was only 25 days ago. There are reports that nearly 2,000 USPS workers have been quarantined over Coronavirus concerns, and it’s impossible to fully understand the scope of the effects Coronavirus has had on any industry.

The world has recognized the importance of truck drivers in keeping local businesses supplied throughout this difficult time, and there has been a lot of good news regarding the country’s efforts to keep more truck drivers on the road. President Trump has relaxed trucking regulations in response to this need, rolling back a law that’s been in place since 1938, which disallows truck drivers for working more than 11 hours per any 14-hour work period. Businesses have been offering free parking and free meals to truckers along the I-80 corridor, and there are reports of truck drivers being cheered upon arriving with their cargo. Before March, the American Trucking Association had issued multiple statements about the incredibly high demand for truck drivers in America, some claiming that there are 48,000 vacant truck driver positions in the country. It’s possible that Walmart’s publicized wage increases may be an indirect result of their inability to staff their trucks by more conventional means.

How You Can Get Started as a Truck Driver

If you’re considering becoming an owner/operator of a semi-truck, now is a great time to do your part and help supply a vital service for the American people. Truck drivers require a Commercial Driver’s License, which is attainable through your local DMV. Check your local Office of Motor Vehicles for their program details. Truck driving becomes increasingly lucrative every single year, but it often takes a significant amount of initial investment to get started. If you need semi-truck financing, contact us, and we’ll help you out, even if you’ve got bad credit or limited driving experience.

How the CARES Act Will Impact Fleets and Owner Operators

On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The CARES Act, as it’s commonly known, is a $2 trillion bill that offers financial support to unemployed persons, small businesses, and large businesses in particular. But how is this bill going to affect the trucking and transportation industry?

How CARES Affects Owner Operators

For those who would be able to work, but are no longer able due to the coronavirus outbreak, Unemployment Insurance Provisions include an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient for up to four months, and extend benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and those with limited work history. “That means, in trucking terms, any leased or independent owner-operators who loses work can draw the new federal unemployment benefits through the end of July.”

While the wording of the law is designed to be generous, it will depend on whether the government believes that many truck drivers are rendered unable to work while the coronavirus is continuing to spread. In general, truckers are working longer hours than ever, and there’s an increasingly high demand for truckers that are available to move freight. The majority of Americans will receive the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment, regardless of their current employment status.

Another bill helping owner operators, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (passed prior to the CARES Act) – requires trucking companies to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who contract COVID-19. “They don’t have to test positive for the virus. Rather, if they experience symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis, employers are required by the law to provide two weeks of paid sick leave, up to $511 a day, or $5,110 for a two-week period.”

What is the Economic Impact Payment?

According to the CARES Act and well-described by an e-book by ATBS, The Economic Impact Payment is designed as a 2020 refundable tax credit claimed on a taxpayer’s 2020 tax filings. The checks going out are effectively an advanced payment of a tax credit for 2020.The tax credit will be reconciled to the payment received when filing your 2020 tax return. If you file your tax return as a single citizen, your credit will be $1,200. If you are Married Filing Jointly, your credit will be $2,400. Additionally, each Qualifying Dependent Under Age 17 that is on your tax return will net an additional credit of $500. In order to receive the payment, you must be an American citizen or resident alien, you must have a Social Security Number (includes children), and you cannot be eligible to be claimed as a dependent.

For many taxpayers, this credit will make a significant impact on their immediate earnings and help them through the extra expenses that may arise from surviving the pandemic. As mentioned above, Unemployment Insurance has been bolstered, which means that truckers who lost their jobs due to the outbreak will be better able to live their lives with income closer to that of their previous wage before their job was lost.

How the Bill Affects Businesses

The CARES Act brings great news for small and large businesses, offering between $350 – $500 billion to help keep businesses of different sizes afloat. America is currently at over 10% unemployment, so these new provisions have come in just in time, making it easier for businesses of different sizes to continue paying their employees while their storefronts may be closed. For companies with under 500 employees, the federal government is offering tax credits and $350 billion for small businesses to apply for loans that can be partially or fully forgiven. For businesses that employ more than 500 people, a separate $500 billion is available.

How Fleets Should Operate Around the Loans

There are two types of loans available. The first is called the Paycheck Protection program, and it’s a loan available to smaller businesses, that delivers 2.5 times the amount of a business’ monthly payroll. These loans can be fully forgiven, if spent correctly— on payroll, rent, utilities, and Mortgage Interest. This is a great loan option for independent owner-operators, who in effect need to pay their own salaries. Best practice for sole proprietor owner-operators would be to use the loan to pay their own payroll and keep strict documentation so that the loan can be fully forgiven in the future.

The second type of loan is called an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which offers loans of up to $2 million with a fixed low interest rate of 3.75%, coupled with a longer repayment period of up to 10 years. This loan requires collateral if the requested amount exceeds $25,000. If you’re looking to borrow a small amount of money for your business, Paycheck Protection Program Loans are superior in every way, as they always have the potential to be entirely forgiven, whereas Economic Injury Disaster Loans can only be forgiven for up to the first $10,000 borrowed, for the rest of the amount to be repaid over the loan period.

What Does This Mean For Trucking?

All of this is good news. Many freight companies have been able to continue operation throughout the pandemic, which means that financial losses will likely not exceed their cost of operation. With loans being available for all businesses at competitive interest rates, we shouldn’t see many freight companies going under any time soon. There are plenty of resources available for how to secure a loan for your business. If these new government opportunities aren’t enough, or you don’t apply, you can always look to a private financial service company like Mission Financial to help your business see it through these difficult times.

With the additional income from the Economic Impact Payment, truckers should be able to stay on the road long enough to deliver the vital food and supplies that the country is relying on. With one of the stipulations to loan forgiveness being that businesses need to keep their payroll at maximum capacity, semi-truck drivers working for freight companies as standard W-2 employees shouldn’t be worried about getting laid off any time soon.

Stay informed on the state of trucking in America by browsing our news page, updated frequently so you don’t miss any important updates!

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