Stephen Burks is a professor of economics and management at the University of Minnesota Morris and has done extensive research on the trucking industry.

While the shelter-in-place early stages led to surge buying that put strains on the supply chain, which then increased demand for long distance trucking, the situation has changed now that the panic buying is largely over. So said Stephen Burks, a professor of economics and management at the University of Minnesota Morris, on the KMRS Community Connection. Burks, one of three professors in the nation who have more than a year of experience driving a truck (he has 10 years under his belt), has been Principal Investigator of the Truckers & Turnover Project since 2005.

“We’re in — I’m not sure if it’s right to call it a freight recession or a freight depression — but freight demand is way down,” said Burks. “All the indeces that are used by industry analysts are way lower now. And the current consensus of people who observe the industry is that we’ve probably hit the bottom. It’s probably not going any lower. And we may have had a couple of little upticks, but it’s not clear how much it’s going to come back.”

What’s been propping things up, said Burks, is paycheck protection loans and unemployment insurance. If that runs out, he warned, the pain in the industry and among its drivers that is already bad will get a lot worse.

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