as an aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
Speaking at the Philadelphia/Delaware Chapter of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Assn., ATA Economist Bob Costello said ATA had surveyed a number of its members and concluded that in an all-out call-up, as many as 170,000 U.S. truck drivers could be called away from their driving jobs to perform military service.
Personnel in Active Reserve units who have already been put on alert have 24 hours to report to their units if called to active service, making things difficult, especially for long-haul drivers and their employers.
It’s unknown what the national impact might be on the trucking industry and related vocations such as construction, refuse and public utilities who employ thousands of workers skilled in their vocations but who also drive trucks as part of their jobs.
Costello also said that any meaningful economic comeback to the U.S. economy will be driven by consumer confidence and consumer decisions to buy, or not to buy.
“Unless and until consumers feel confident following the aftermath of Sept. 11, they won’t buy and without that, the GNP won’t pick up,” he said.
Costello said the U.S. GNP has been negative in the third quarter even without the terrorist attack. He said the fourth quarter GNP is likely to be minus 0.5%, with a positive turn in the first quarter of 2002 if there is no further terrorist attack on the U.S. and consumers start buying again. Consumer buying is the first step leading to manufacturers recalling workers, ordering in raw materials, etc., and ultimately producing finished goods and products that translate into truck tonnage.
“Between rock-bottom interest rates and a consumer comeback, we could be rolling by the third quarter of 2002, again barring no further terrorism,” Costello concluded.