Labor, timber and equipment shortages are wreaking havoc for some troops moving this summer
This year’s moving season for military personnel and their families is in full swing, and some troops are already feeling the effects of stretched capacity in the moving industry.
Members are encouraged to make their household items move requests as soon as possible. But a member of the service reported to the Military Times that some troops who had a moving company lined up through the military “report that they have been ghosts and can no longer even hire. [portable storage units or rental trucks] because it’s such a mess. Still, the military report dates at their next duty station are not changed, he noted.
“The military areas with the tightest declared capacity include Washington State, North and South Dakota, California, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico,” said Scott Ross, spokesperson for the United States. US Transportation Command. In many areas, moving companies are booked until June and July, he said.
To date, TRANSCOM is seeing an increase in the volume of shipments – about 5% above their three-year average, Ross said. But during the week of May 24, volume rivaled what is historically the busiest week of the year, the last week of June, he said. Expected shipment volumes over the next four weeks are in line with historical averages, he said, and the military are all projecting “typical” volumes this season.
But it’s a matter of less of the industry’s ability to handle the moves that are happening. “Like many industries, the moving and storage industry is reporting significant labor issues and, as a result, is facing a tighter than normal capacity this moving season, resulting in longer times to finalize reservations, ”Ross said. This affects DoD moves as well as the commercial sector, where summer is also the busiest moving season. The peak moving season runs from mid-May to the end of August.
“While we understand the labor constraints faced by vendors, including those operating under the Defense Personal Property Protection program, a client should never be ‘ghosted’ by their business. moving, ”he said. TRANSCOM officials are closely monitoring these cases, Ross said.
“We recognize the fierce competition for teams and drivers on the move, but blocking a service member, not returning calls, or letting families guess what’s going to happen with their shipment is about as disrespectful as it sounds. “, did he declare. “There is no place in the program for businesses that operate like this.
“If this happens to a customer, they should contact their local transportation office and chain of command to discuss options immediately,” he said.
Services reported to TRANSCOM that there were 49 such cases last week, Ross said. “It didn’t mean that we necessarily had to go out there and do anything,” he said, and it didn’t mean families didn’t have their household items picked up. “It just means there was a problem [the local transportation officials] had to solve. This is the place where the problem is solved.
Dan Bradley, director of government and military relations for the International Association of Movers, said a variety of factors are behind the stretched capacity situation. He saw cases earlier this year of companies having to “switch back” to TRANSCOM that they had previously accepted and scheduled for service members due to unforeseen issues with manpower or other issues.
It is not clear whether more PCS moves are occurring sooner due to pressure from departments to get PCS orders earlier to ease the crisis of peak moving season, or if this is military movements that were delayed by pandemic PCS delays last year. TRANSCOM said there were no backlogs of military movements at the end of 2020. As of December 15, commercial movers had moved 321,000 household items and unaccompanied baggage and 57,000 vehicles, or 85% of the volume in 2019 .
Not only is the moving industry facing a shortage of labor, including packers and drivers, it also faces a shortage of lumber and wood products, Bradley said. There has been a shortage of truckers for a long time. “So between labor shortages and wood shortages, some of these things are definitely causing limited capacity,” Bradley said. Wooden crates are used on some shipments within the continental United States, but are required if the shipment is international.
In some areas there is also a shortage of equipment, he said, as some companies rent trucks and other items.
Service members who want to move on their own – or have no other choice – may also face rental truck shortages in their area.
“The demand for U-Haul moving equipment is high this summer, as it is every summer in most of the markets we serve in the United States and Canada,” said Jeff Lockridge, spokesperson for U-Haul International. He noted that about 45 percent of all residential moves occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day in a typical year. “Customer demand for our products and services – and all forms of affordable mobility solutions – has been particularly strong since the pandemic lockdown was lifted in 2020.”
There are always markets where the demand is higher for one-way equipment, and when more equipment leaves an area than it enters, it can leave imbalances in inventory, although teams local and corporate work daily to manage the allocation of U-Haul equipment, says Lockridge.
For those who might not be able to find a rental truck or other equipment in their area on any given day, he recommends considering driving a bit further to retrieve that equipment, which could increase the chances of being able to obtain the necessary equipment. Moving early in the week, rather than on the weekends when demand tends to be the highest, could also increase the chances of getting equipment, he said.
“We encourage customers to consider some of our other moving solutions, and perhaps more easily accessible,” he said, such as towing an enclosed trailer or packing items into shipping containers. portable moving and storage U-Box. U-Haul can then ship or store them anywhere in the world.
Pentagon bureau chief Meghann Myers contributed to this report.