Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jeffboat layoffs

Jeffboat is laying off about 10 percent of its work force at its barge-making operation in Jeffersonville, Ind.

This announcement didn't surprise me, as I have noticed the number of barges tied to the bank in my part of the Ohio River. 

The layoffs don't affect the transportation division.

This reminds me of an old-time story that geezers like me start to tell, and young folks on the receiving end give you that smile like they're thinking, "Finish this boring story, please." So I'll let it go.


michelle said...


I've actually been following your posts about barge traffic and such with interest, because we're given a little bit of information about how at least one dock is affected. A relative of ours works at a local coal dock, and there are huge concerns about MORE layoffs in that one dock, because of how this entire year (since early Spring) has gone.

Last year, and most years, this one dock loaded 4-8 or 10 barges each day. Now? They are lucky to load 4 or 6 in a WEEK. Which has just seemed unreal to me, and has me really concerned about our area.

I'm having a hard time understanding why demand for coal is down, since we're using just as much energy and no real changes have been made yet regarding how we get our energy. I keep trying to understand what is happening, but it's above my head.

So you aren't a geezer :) Most people just flip light switches without ever thinking about where the power comes from, that's all. I'm following, though, hoping to understand it better. Somehow, though, if it weren't for a relative, I truthfully doubt it would have ever crossed my mind to pay attention to the barges.

tanstaafl said...

A large amount of the coal processed out onto barges from this area is used in various furnaces for steel making for automobiles and trucks. And in coking operations, which help serve the same markets. With the auto industry being in a downward spiral and the steel industry the same way (as a result of the auto industry's troubles), it only mean that less and less coal is required. And therefore less barge loadings and therefore less train and truck movements of coal to the docks and therefore less coal mining and etc etc.

The downturn in the auto industry, of course, was fueled to a great extent by the failure of that industry to react timely to changing events in the world supplies of oil and the movement of the American people to smaller more fuel efficient vehicle in the 2007-2008 period, to such an extent that the automakers built huge inventories of unsalable vehicles.

And even though the price of fuel has dropped dramatically, the damage to the automakers was already done. And so on down the line to the coal miner and those local businesses that rely upon those workers for their own survival.

Fortunately, it appears that the US economy is beginning to revive somewhat, even though the world economy is still reeling. But it will take a while longer for the coal loadings at local ,docks to feel any effect, as coal inventories are still elevated to a certain extent, as are inventories in just about all manufacturing and retail.

And so we see the continuing layoffs in the inland maritime, and most companies supplying it.

Now you must understand that everyone is a geezer. Some have just not accumulated enough seniority to be recognized as such yet. But when the hair grows out of the ears and the ears and nose get larger as time passes, you are coming into your geezerdom. Look for the signs! And enjoy.

michelle said...

Whew! No ear hairs yet! Almost got paranoid.


My mind came back to this post as we were on 23 headed to Pike County. Just an observation really.

We noticed that the stockpiles at the docks are pretty plentiful, and the coal trucks are still running (though the traffic seems a little bit lighter than usual). However, the main thing that popped out at me was the trains. It seems to me that train traffic is increasing again...coal loads, that is. Barges and trains both follow the river, so I was wondering...

As the barge traffic goes down, what's going on with the trains? Do you have any way of finding out? Is it maybe cheaper to move it by rail now?