North American shipment volumes and total spending on freight both dropped in January, following the pattern we have come to expect in the almost six years since the end of the Great Recession. Overall, the economy was much stronger in 2014, although the strong GDP growth of the second and third quarters was capped with more modest growth in the fourth quarter. The continuing labor and capacity woes at West Coast ports had an impact on shipment volume late in December, which is reflected in the January 2015 indexes.
News / North America Transportation
American Trucking Associations’advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index was unchanged in December, following a jump of 3.5% during the previous month. In December, the index equaled 136.8 (2000=100), which tied November as the all-time high.
Drayage, the business of carrying cargo containers by truck from a port terminal to a distribution center, warehouse, or rail ramp, is in a god-awful mess right now at ports from California to New Jersey.
The December Cass Freight Indexes followed expected seasonal trends with a 6.3 percent drop in shipment volume and a matching 6.7 percent decline in freight spending. However, the December figures mark the highest end ‐of‐year values for both indexes since the beginning of the recession in 2007.
U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $108.2 billion in October 2014 as three transportation modes – air, rail, and trucks – carried more U.S.-NAFTA freight than in October 2013, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). October 2014 was the highest month on record for the value of U.S.-NAFTA trade flows, not adjusted for inflation.
American Trucking Associations’advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.5% in November, following an increase of 0.5% during the previous month. In November, the index equaled 136.8 (2000=100), which was the highest level on record.
In a 138-word notice posted on its website, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Thursday morning issued the official notice that the 34-hour restart rule in place since July 1, 2013, had been suspended per the action of Congress and the signature of President Barack Obama in passing the $1.1 trillion spending bill.
You probably heard about the most recent talks about the importance of a spending bill passing in Congress to avoid a government shutdown. You may have missed the rather surprising changes to the hours of service (HOS) regulations that were also on the docket.
The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 0.3 percent in October from September, rising for the fourth consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The October 2014 index level (121.8) was 28.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
The November Cass Freight Index showed a drop in total freight expenditures of 0.7 percent and a corresponding decline in shipment volumes of 0.2 percent. This was not unexpected given the fact that retailers stocked up early in anticipation of problems at the West Coast ports. While November is generally a slower month for freight movement, the last several years have shown dramatic drop-offs in November. So, in context, this slight downward shift is an encouraging improvement that is helping to cap off a good year for freight.