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Trucks carry SJ County economy

Mega region status helps bring 5,900 Amazon jobs

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Trucks carry SJ County economy

Big rig truck driving jobs have grown 36 percent since 2005 in San Joaquin County.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED August 28, 2013 1:14 a.m.

San Joaquin County’s economy keeps on trucking — literally.

Transportation and warehousing jobs have grown 18 percent in San Joaquin County since 2000 compared to overall net job growth of less than 2 percent. Trucking per se is the fastest growing source of jobs in San Joaquin County.

A study by the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of Pacific credits much of the growth from distribution centers relocating out of the congested and expensive Bay Area.

The result has been making San Joaquin County the epicenter of what the study terms “the Northern California Megaregion” with a population of 14.5 million and a gross regional annual product of over $800 billion. The region stretches from the Bay Area to Reno and from north of Chico to a point north of Bakersfield.

Besides having the major West Coast freeway running from Mexico to Canada passing through the county as Interstate 5, Highway 99 that serves as California’s Main Street for goods movements as well as Interstate 205 with direct access to Bay Area markets are all within San Joaquin County. The county is served by two intermodal train-to-truck yards — the Union Pacific Railroad between Manteca and Lathrop and the Santa Fe Railroad just northeast of Manteca. Intermodal freight is the fastest growing category of goods movement nationally. The county also has the Port of Stockton, the West Coast’s eastern most seaport.

The growing economic vitality of San Joaquin County as a prime distribution hub for the mega region is underscored by Amazon’s decision to locate a 1.2-million e-fulfillment center in Tracy with 1,700 permanent employees and 4,200 seasonal employees. The facility will open Oct. 1. The complex also includes a 100,000-square-foot Amazon Fresh facility.

There are 5,770 drivers of “heavy” trucks (vehicles with a gross weight of at least 26,000 pounds) employed by San Joaquin County concerns. That’s up by 1,530 or 36 percent in the last seven years. Overall, there are 22,590 jobs countywide that are tied into the movement and distribution of goods from actual trucking to warehouse operations.

The Amazon complex will increase heavy trucking jobs in the county as well as light trucks jobs targeted toward neighborhood delivery. Currently there are 1,440 light trucking jobs in the county.

None of the truck driving jobs figures compiled by the UOP School of Business includes self-employed truck drivers.

Amazon’s impact on the goods movement sector of the county’s job market can’t be overemphasized.  Currently there are 22,590 jobs in that employment category. After Amazon is up and running it will increase that number by 10 percent. And that doesn’t include the additional need for heavy and light truck drivers.

The cities of Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy, and Stockton have aggressively targeted distribution centers. The largest chunk of the 1,050-acre Austin Road Business Park moving forward in southeast Manteca is aimed at distribution customers.

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