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Truckers still waiting for economy’s U-turn

If you're looking for optimism that the economy is headed for a big rebound, here's a little advice: Don't go talk to a bunch of truckers.

“Happy days are not here again,” said Lee Klass, an independent trucker. “I no longer figure how much I’m down from last year because I have enough stress in my life.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which is based in Grain Valley and represents about 150,000 truckers, talks with hundreds of drivers each day. Association officials say business is down and shipping rates are cut even more as more truckers compete for fewer shipments.

Though some others in the industry see signs that the downturn has stabilized, many of the numbers aren’t encouraging:

Freight shipments hit a seven-year low in March, says the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which hasn’t compiled results for April yet. A separate measure, the American Trucking Association’s freight index, was down 2.2 percent from March to April and is down 13.2 percent from a year ago.

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