After nearly seven months of uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economic recovery, one thing is for certain: reaching pre-COVID levels of business will take a considerable amount of time. And when it does happen, it will occur at varying rates across the country. While the unemployment rate decreased for the fourth consecutive month, the number of long-term unemployed remained stagnant at 1.6 million people. Buoyed by education professionals returning for a new academic year, temporary government hiring for the 2020 Census and retail merchandising opportunities, the Department of Labor’s August jobs report announced 1.4 million new jobs.
Using the country’s largest retained pool of drivers to provide a current view of economic growth and recovery, we’ve learned much. Our latest Mileage Trends Flash Report, which closely monitors business mileage trends, shows disparate results. National business mileage activity has reached 64% of pre-pandemic levels. We’ve also seen steady increases in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. Similarly, national activity has increased at a slow but gradual pace since our August 13th report and volatility has increased across industry sectors and subsectors.
Business leaders looking to make informed decisions for their companies can benefit most by identifying with the activity specific to their region and industry. Here’s a closer look into the key findings from the report:
- The Western U.S. is trending at 66% of pre-pandemic levels after a slight increase in recent weeks. Business mileage in the Midwestern U.S. overcame a dip in early July and steadily increased to match the Southern U.S. at 65% of pre-pandemic levels. The Northeastern U.S. continues to trend upward and is at 58% of pre-pandemic levels after sustained week-over-week growth.
- After widespread reopening efforts resulted in a rapid upward mileage trend across most industries in May and June, recent weeks have shown a slight increase of 2-4% in a majority of sectors. In similar fashion to the varying levels of increase displayed across each region, the Pharmaceutical/Biotech & Medical Devices industry witnessed substantial growth over the past month balloon to 60% of its pre-pandemic activity level. This uptick is powered by companies providing respiratory equipment, lab tests and various forms of personal protective equipment.
- Food & Beverage (81% of pre-pandemic levels)
- Construction & Building Materials (76%)
- Machinery (66%)
- Hospitals & Healthcare (62%)
- Business Services (62%)
- Pharmaceutical/Biotech & Medical Devices (60%)
- Retail (57%)
- Energy & Environmental (46%)
- Automotive (47%)
- Manufacturing (45%)
As business leaders seek a balanced approach to bringing driving activity back up to pre-COVID levels while avoiding unnecessary risk for their employees, we hope these flash reports provide useful benchmarks of field activity and business trend indicators. With trend fluctuations plateauing in the second half of the year, we will continue sharing updates on a monthly basis. We look forward to sharing the next Mileage Trends Flash Report in mid-October.
For businesses that would like further guidance or to talk through what this data means for you, we’re here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!