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This Week in Logistics News (August 5 – 11)

Long live rock! At the beginning of this week, I took a “boy’s trip” with my son and my dad to Ohio to check out the Football Hall of Fame and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Both venues were incredible, and it was an amazing bonding experience for the three of us. The Football Hall of Fame was especially fun as we were able to see old and new equipment up close, and my son got to try on a Joe Burrow game worn jersey. The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame was equally as amazing as we saw countless pieces of memorabilia, from Jimi Hendrix’s guitar and Little Richard’s jumpsuit to Pete Seeger’s banjo head and Taylor Swift’s throne from the Look What You Made Me Do video. For any sports and / or music fan, I recommend the trip. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

US chip plans hit speed bump with key jobs taking months to fill
Target is rolling out Starbucks curbside pickup
UPS prepares to win back volume it lost during Teamsters negotiations
Declining imports compress US trade deficit in June
Cargo volume expected to hit yearly peak, NRF Says
FMCSA to renew plan for carriers to keep accident records
British Columbia port workers ratify contract offer

US chipmakers are struggling to fill key positions, a new study shows, as a shortage of skilled labor threatens to hobble efforts to revive the domestic industry. It’s taking semiconductor firms more than twice as long as their peers in other industries to hire personnel such as technicians or mechanical engineers, with the typical process stretching to about three months, according to an analysis of the top 50 chip producers in the US by Revelio Labs, a labor-market data analyst. Chipmakers have long sounded the alarm that the US doesn’t have enough job candidates with a background in science, technology and engineering. The firms are on course to add 115,000 jobs by 2030, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association — but at current degree completion rates, the group says, nearly three-fifths of those jobs could remain unfilled. Among the 50 firms studied by Revelio, the share of job postings that are based in the US climbed sharply last year after the passage of Biden’s CHIPS and Science Act to support the industry. Texas led the expansion of hiring, followed by North Carolina and New York.

Target is looking to jolt sales by adding Starbucks drinks and food to its curbside pickup service at stores across the country. The big-box retailer on Wednesday said it will expand that offer to its more than 1,700 stores that have Starbucks cafes and Drive Up, its curbside pickup service. That’s the vast majority of its nearly 2,000 locations. The company said it will begin the chain-wide rollout this summer and will have the new feature across stores by October. Target has experimented with ways to sweeten the shopping experience and deepen customer loyalty, especially as consumers buy fewer discretionary items and prioritize spending on experiences such as concerts and dining out. Among its strategies, the discounter has opened more mini Ulta Beauty shops, debuted curbside returns and invested in speedier shipping. Target has a licensing agreement with Starbucks. Baristas at its stores are employed by Target.

Although some UPS shippers stayed put during negotiations, many scrambled to move their package volumes to other carriers over concerns of a potential Aug. 1 strike that would have disrupted the company’s operations. Where did this diverted volume go? FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service and a mix of regional carriers each took one-third of the diverted volume, CEO CarolTomé said, citing market share intelligence data. It’s now “all hands-on deck to win back the volume,” the CEO said. UPS is highlighting its strong service levels, speed advantage over FedEx in several markets and its SurePost product — a lower-cost offering using the Postal Service for final-mile delivery — to regain lost volume, according to Tomé. The company is also expanding its Saturday delivery and weekend pickup services into new areas. Additionally, UPS has set up a “control tower” to onboard returning volume without disruption, similar to what the company does during the peak holiday shipping season.

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in June as businesses cut back on purchases of foreign-made capital goods, resulting in imports falling to the lowest level in more than 1-1/2 years. The decline in imports reported by the Commerce Department on Tuesday potentially signals a slowdown in business investment and overall domestic demand amid hefty interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. Imports are falling as businesses carefully manage inventory in anticipation of softer demand. That was underscored by other data showing a bigger decline in wholesale inventories in June than initially estimated. The trade deficit contracted 4.1 percent to $65.5 billion. Data for May was revised to show the trade gap narrowing to $68.3 billion instead of $69.0 billion as previously reported. The government estimated that trade was a small drag GDP last quarter after contributing to growth for four straight quarters. It estimated that the economy grew at a 2.4 percent annualized rate in the April-June quarter. The government will publish its revision to the GDP estimate later this month.

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major container ports is expected to hit its highest level in nearly a year in August as retailers stock up for the holiday season, according to a new report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.83 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units – one 20-foot container or its equivalent – in June, the latest month for which final numbers are available. That was down 5.2% from May and down 18.7 percent year-over-year. That brought the first half of 2023 to 10.5 million TEU, down 22 percent from the first half of 2022. Ports have not yet reported July numbers, but Global Port Tracker projected the month at 1.91 million TEU, down 12.7 percent year-over-year. August is forecast at 2.03 million TEU, down 10.2 percent year-over-year but the first month since last October to reach 2 million TEU. September is forecast at 1.97 million TEU, down 3 percent; October at 1.99 million TEU, down 1 percent; November at 1.92 million TEU, up 8 percent for the first year-over-year increase since June 2022, and December also at 1.92 million TEU, up 10.7 percent year-over-year.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced plans to renew its requirement that motor carriers maintain a record of accidents involving their commercial motor vehicles. While the plan does not require carriers to report the accident data to the agency, it must produce it upon inquiry by authorized federal, state or local officials, FMCSA said Aug. 8 in a Federal Register announcement. The accident record-keeping requirements include the date, location, driver name, number of injuries, number of fatalities and whether certain dangerous hazardous materials were released. If a crash involves the release of hazardous materials, carriers must complete a hazardous incident report, according to FMCSA records. The agency is seeking public comment on its plan on or before Oct. 10. The plan must be approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget before becoming final.

British Columbia’s port workers voted almost 75 percent in favor of a contract offer, ending weeks of turbulent job action that stopped billions of dollars’ worth of goods from being shipped in Canada. In a statement on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada website late Friday, president Rob Ashton confirmed the result. The dispute had shut down ports on Canada’s west coast last month for nearly two weeks and spurred several business groups and political leaders to call for back-to-work legislation. Federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan tweeted that both the ILWU and the BC Maritime Employers Association ratified the deal, ending the dispute. O’Regan said, however, that he is directing federal officials to review the entire case to avoid a port disruption of this magnitude from happening in the future.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Long Live Rock by the Who.

The post This Week in Logistics News (August 5 – 11) appeared first on Logistics Viewpoints.

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