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Layoffs Plague Truckers Amid Outbreak

As the spread of the novel coronavirus impacts the global economy, truckers in Southern California face difficult roads ahead. To compensate, some companies resort to layoffs.

Los Angeles serves as a hub for international trade. Transpacific shipping ferries cargo between China and the United States. As the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, China’s industries took a major blow as quarantines limited production. Manufacturers overseas drastically reduced their output. Thus, trade with the US saw a steep dropoff.

Now, faced with a reduction in business, trucking companies resort to unfortunate measures out of necessity. One intermodal California trucking company based in Carson, Shippers Transport Express, turned to layoffs.

The company laid off half of its truck drivers. 145 of its employees are now unemployed.

They received text messages on February 25 informing them of the layoffs. They took effect two days later.

Layoffs Follow Cargo Dropoff

The Port of Los Angeles reported a steep decline in cargo for February. On March 10, they announced a 23 percent decrease in volume compared for February of last year. While other factors like the trade war and the lunar new year impacted the industry, officials say the novel coronavirus constitutes the majority of the reason.

Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, lamented the consequences for the industry, but recognized the necessity for social distancing. “While cargo volumes are important, the coronavirus is first and foremost a public health crisis that needs to be brought under control with the collaboration of governments and medical experts from around the world,” he said.

However, he stated the port’s goals to prepare it for the eventual return of cargo shipments. He mentioned returning empty containers to China and ship out lingering US cargo to free space.

Officials anticipate cargo spikes following the outbreak’s containment. China’s numbers have already turned, demonstrating containment. It took the country roughly 2 months. Though, South Korea took less time to see their numbers turn direction.

Containment in the US is expected to take 4 to 6 weeks.

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