Sunday, August 7, 2011

Transports and Retailers Are Doing Fine

Among all of our daily news doom and gloom, are two recent articles that show evidence that the world of commerce is ongoing. One only has to look a bit to be assured that the world isn't ending. First, July same store sales at the nation's retail chains, the heaviest portion of "back-to-school" buying and the second most important time period for retailers, were up impressive numbers. Almost all grew from 4 to 9 percent over last year's performance. Those statistics were from a broad range of stores, specialty to department, not just discounters. The economy may not be rosy and we have a large number of unemployed and underemployed, but the safety net cushions those unfortunate and the 85 percent are not in depression mode.

Second, those goods have to move somehow from container to shelf and my trucking friends are busy, getting good rates, and adding to fleets. Again, some owner operators are going broke as are over-leveraged fleets, but the truckload carriers are busy. The second article was about hiring at the nation's train lines. The Union Pacific is headquartered in Omaha and Omaha based Berkshire Hathaway owns the Burlington Northern and that railroad also has a large presence in Nebraska. Both are hiring in large numbers nationwide. The jobs are across all categories, white and blue collar, and are the result of increased freight demand. Many require as much as 6 months training and aren't added without thought and commitment. Both roads are back up to pre-recession employment levels and are continuing to add people. The industry pays well in both salary and benefits so that bodes well for the economy. The freight being moved in greater quantities are agricultural products, energy, and autos.

I think I may send CNBC and all Wall Street firms complementary subscriptions to the Omaha World-Herald so they can find some factual, real world economic data to talk about and react to.

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