Tough times for shipping business

November 10, 2008 2:53:01 PM PST
The economic downturn may be accelerating: the package delivery company DHL will lay off nearly 10,000 employees. It is just the latest in a long list of companies humbled by the current financial crisis. Many business experts predict the economic climate will worsen before we see any improvement.

ABC7 heard several stories Monday about dwindling interest in shipping -- fewer packages coming in, trucks less full and customers being thriftier with their spending. It all adds up to a tough time for those in the shipping business and employees trying survive this economic downturn.

The DHL facility on West Cermak is among hundreds across the country where employees are bracing for devastating job cuts.

"This isn't bad with my co-workers and also, this isn't bad with me. I feel sorry for everybody in the dilemma, but it's something that we all have to face and do with," said Derrick Norfleet, DHL Driver.

Jermaine Glenn drives for DHL. After 12 years, he thought he'd be safe. But says he's only guaranteed hours through this week.

"My biggest fear right now is losing my home. Because I'm single, I have no wife or nothing to help me out. This is my only source of income. So if I lose this job and if I don't find another job, then I'm out," said Jermaine Glenn, DHL driver.

German-owned DHL will now focus on international shipping. Domestic shipping stops by January 30, cutting 9,500 jobs in the U.S.

"We believe that with the focus on international in the United States, we can still offer a very credible international product," said John Mullen, DHL/Deutsche Post World Net.

Those in the industry say there are simply fewer packages being sent and therefore less revenue for companies in the business of shipping. A U.S. Postal Service spokesman says they are offering early retirement and looking at ways to reduce costs.

At The UPS Store across from the Lyric Opera business is down 10 percent. The owner says he sees more customers looking for ways to cut costs.

"I'm noticing more packages being sent ground. It is a cheaper service. Less people are sending air because of the goofy gas prices. One week it's going up, one week it's going down. It affects the shipping costs," said Rich Yee, The UPS Store.

It is unclear how many of the DHL cuts will be in Chicago.

A new focus on only international shipping means DHL will still need a presence in Chicago. But the international shipping only accounts for about one-fourth of DHL's business.


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