“No way did I realize how difficult it was going to be to try and get people to come to work these days”: CEO of CSX.
So there are few hiccups in the US economy right now. James Foote, the chief executive of CSX, one of the largest railroads in the US, put it this way during the earnings call yesterday (transcript by Seeking Alpha):
“I’ve never seen any kind of a thing like this in the transportation environment in my entire career where everything seems to be going sideways at the same time,” he said.
“In January when I got on this [earnings] call, I said we were hiring because we anticipated growth. I fully expected that by now we would have about 500 new T&E [train and engine] employees on the property,” he said. “No way did I or anybody else in the last six months realize how difficult it was going to be to try and get people to come to work these days.”
“It’s an enormous challenge for us to go out and find people that want to be conductors on the railroad, just like it’s hard to find people that want to be baristas or anything else, it’s very, very difficult,” he said.
“Nor did we anticipate that a lot of the people were going to decide they didn’t want to work anymore. So attrition was much higher in the first half of the year than what we had expected,” he said.
“So even though we brought on 200 new employees, we fell short of where we thought we would be by now….”
Railroads are grappling with a weird phenomenon that is a combination of “labor shortages” and 12.6 million people still claiming some form of unemployment compensation, amid stimulus-fueled demand.