Economy

Inflation to Keep on Truckin’ With Walmart’s Long Haul Plans?

Walmart Truck Drivers

Inflation may keep on truckin’ — literally.

As has been reported across any number of media outlets on Friday (Jan. 25), Walmart wants to hire more truck drivers — and will pay pretty handsomely, at an annual salary that equates to roughly $90,000. The pay translates to roughly 90 cents a mile, and the firm has some new hiring and training features in place for the drivers it wants to add to its roster in 2019.

For one thing, as reported by abc13.com, the hiring spree will come on top of the 1,400 drivers that were hired last year. This year the retailing giant is looking to hire even more than that.

The wages come amid a shortage of drivers that has been in place for months. The shortage is in the thousands — 50,000 positions are still unfilled, per data from the American Trucking Association and as recounted in Fortune, while tonnage is up 6 percent year over year.

Walmart’s wages to be paid for those on wheels is eye-popping compared to the median salary of $53,000 across the U.S. But it also speaks to the deep pockets the retailer is willing to lighten to lure talent. Walmart, after all, has been pushing its presence in the delivery space, and we all know that eCommerce is leading to all sorts of boosts in freight, done across all manner of transport.

The pressure may be on then, for other companies that rely on long haul transport to raise their own wages paid to truckers (and for trucking firms in general) to keep staff from bolting to Walmart. Thus, shipping rates will go up too.  Shipping rates are an input cost, and will likely bring prices offered by retailers higher too.

At the moment, unemployment is low (very low, at less than 4 percent), wages are ticking up, and as we know from bank earnings and macro data, consumers are consuming. Core prices excluding commodities showed 2 percent growth year on year in the latest reading earlier this month. Kimberly Clark, for example, said that commodity costs are on the rise.

Banks have said that inflation is subdued — but then again, they are going to keep raising rates, which means that corporate debt will get more expensive as firms have to grapple with other, higher operating costs.  Thus, again, higher prices. The road leads to higher trucking costs, yes, and possibly pressure on the pocketbook on the horizon.

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