Even if you are not PCSing this year, you have either heard from a friend or seen it in a spouses’ Facebook group about how difficult this year really is. Coming out of last year which gave us stop movement orders and exception to policies, many had hopes that this year would be better and smoother. However, this year has shaped up to be something for the history books as many in the moving industry or local transportation offices have noted this has been the worst year in their career.
So, what is really going on?
Currently there are many families who are waiting until mid-July or even August as the earliest available time frame for when the military can provide a moving company, preparing to split travel, or looking to do a PPM (personally procured move). These delays and changes of plans are due mainly to the labor shortage that is taking place in not only the moving industry, but in other industries across the country.
The current unemployment benefits that offer $600 per week is the same amount that a person packing would be paid per week. So why not just pay them more? It is a double-edged sword; the moving companies cannot pay more without accepting more shipments, they cannot accept more shipments unless they have a crew to work those shipments or else the company ends up losing more money paying an inconvenience claim. Additionally, many moving companies receive up to 80% of their revenue stream in the 8-week PCS peak season due to how the program is set up. Since they cannot take the number of shipments, they are accustomed to, they are losing money. Many hope that when these benefits end in August, that more people will come back to the work force, and the end of peak season will look better than the start of peak season.
It is also important to note that there is a truck driver shortage as well, which means that many shipments are sitting in storage until a driver can be secured to move them. Also, the mills have not been able to turn over lumber quick enough causing a shortage and cost increase for crates While Transcom has helped with the increased cost and provided more money to the industry to assist with that, it can do nothing to help with the demand that is needed and getting the lumber out of the mills.
So what is a family to do?
Be Flexible – It is important right now to be flexible in your timeline of events. A family should always have a few buffer dates in their planning should something happen – maybe your child gets sick, maybe it’s pouring rain on load day and the company wants to shift a day, etc. Having these few extra days can help with securing a moving company who may not have a crew to work on the day you requested but might have a crew available the day before or day after your requested date.
Have Back Up Plans – We have seen many families get pushed into a PPM this year since they needed to be out of your house by a certain date. Discuss your situation with your local transportation office on what the current climate at your location is experiencing. Some locations are booked solid for months, some still have capacity. This discussion can help you weigh your options and decide while plan is best for you. You may find you have to go with plan B, C or D (hopefully not any options past that!)
This year is definitely one for the books. US Transportation Command, the moving industry and our service branches are discussing these issues regularly and working on solutions to help ease the burden on our military families. Everyone understands how dire this season has been and hopes that we can improve it. If you have issues during your move, always reach out to your move coordinator from your assigned TSP (Transportation Service Provider) and your local transportation office.
To all those in the throes of PCSing – may your PCS be smooth, uneventful, and be your plan A!