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FedEx Freight, the less-than-truckload arm of FedEx Corp. and the nation’s largest LTL carrier, said Saturday it will furlough an undetermined number of drivers starting in early December.

The furloughs are scheduled to last about 90 days, during which time affected workers will continue to receive health benefits and will be allowed to file for unemployment benefits in their respective states of residence. Some eligible employees will be offered permanent transfer opportunities to other markets that have hiring needs, the unit said in a statement.

The furloughs are expected to affect a small number of drivers, and not all facilities will be targeted, said Miranda Yarbro, a FedEx Freight spokesperson. The furloughs will be voluntary, Yarbro added.

“Because of our previous experience with furlough and with the incentives we are offering, we are expecting employees to volunteer to meet the business need,” Yarbro said in an email.

The unit employs about 45,000 people. It was not immediately clear how many drivers it employs.

The action was taken in response to slowing macroeconomic conditions that have impacted LTL demand in recent weeks, the unit said. The LTL segment, which has shown very strong growth coming out of the pandemic, has seen volumes level off recently due to economic uncertainty caused by high inflation and recession concerns.

FedEx Freight has been the best performer of FedEx’s (NYSE: FDX) three transport business units. Its two larger units, FedEx Express and FedEx Ground, have been hurt by high costs and slower-than-expected demand. FedEx Freight, by contrast, has focused on profitable growth and has been willing to shed unprofitable tonnage to achieve that goal.

In its fiscal 2023 first quarter, which ended Aug. 31, FedEx Freight’s operating income increased 67%. The gains were driven by actions to improve shipment yields, as well as the positive impact of higher fuel surcharges, the parent reported.

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