Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., a bellwether for the U.S. economy in the past decade, reported Wednesday a sharp revenue decline for May.

The Thomasville company said it had a 16.2% decline in its daily revenue compared with May 2019.

The decline came primarily from a 16.7% decrease in shipments per day.

For the second quarter through May 31, revenue is down 4.7% year over year when excluding fuel surcharges. By comparison, Old Dominion reported first-quarter revenue of $987.4 million, down 0.3% from a year ago.

Old Dominion has become a bellwether over the past two decades, having grown into a top-10 trucking company.

“We are encouraged by the gradual improvement in our daily revenue trend throughout the month of May,” Greg Gantt, the company’s chief executive and president, said.

On April 24, Old Dominion confirmed that a COVID-19 pandemic-related decline in business since early April led “to a necessary adjustment to our workforce.”

The company declined to say how many employees are affected by the furloughs, how many days or weeks of furlough are required or how long the cutbacks are projected to last.

The company did not specify whether management would take pay reductions or unpaid time off, as several local companies have done as part of their furlough programs.

The trucking company told analysts that “our current number of active employees has decreased approximately 15%, as compared with April 2019.”

“With the belief that business levels will be restored once the economy reopens, we implemented an employee furlough program,” Gantt said April 24.

As of Dec. 31, Old Dominion had 910 employees at its headquarters in Thomasville and 720 workers at a service center in southwest Greensboro. The company is expanding its Greensboro center and establishing a similar center in the Guilford County side of Kernersville.

The company listed an average 19,948 employees during the first quarter, down 5.2% from 21,044 a year ago. That was the only mention of workforce count in its formal news release.

Adam Satterfield, Old Dominion’s chief financial officer, told analysts that “due to the unprecedented decrease in revenue we experienced in April, we implemented the furlough program in attempt to balance the number of employees actively working with current freight trends.”

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