Economic news has been mixed as of late, but economists saw two trucking reports show the economy is headed in the right direction.
“The American Trucking Associations’ Truck Tonnage Index was up 1 percent in May after a revised 0.9 percent gain in April,” reports The City Wire. “For the first five months of 2014, tonnage is up 2.9 percent compared to the same period in 2013, according to the ATA index. The index is off just 1 percent from the all-time high in November 2013 (131.0).”
Trucking shipments were also up by 1 percent.
“North American freight shipments and expenditures continued to buck the historic trend and increased again in May. The first five months of 2014 were the strongest since the end of the great recession,” noted the Cass report. “While this seems counter to the dismal GDP reading for the first quarter, which shows a one percent drop or a contraction in the economy, much of the decrease in GDP can be attributed to declining inventories, slowing exports and weather‐related issues. Many other economic signs, especially growth in the manufacturing sector, point to an uptick in the five‐year recovery and a continued increase in freight movements.”
In its review of the report, The City Wire reported that “Cass uses data from $22 billion in annual freight transactions processed by its information processing division to create the index. The data comes from a Cass client base of 350 large shippers.”
The growth in trucking in 2014 hasn’t hit 2013 levels yet, but they indicate continued growth of the industry.
“While the year-to-date improvement is running behind last year’s robust 6.3 percent increase, gains this year are more broad-based,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a press release. “It isn’t just heavy freight for sectors like tank truck and flatbed from energy and housing that are improving this year. Now, generic dry van trailer freight is doing better as well, which wasn’t the case in 2013. This is a good sign for the economy.”
Economist say the positive trucking reports indicate overall economic growth because the commercial trucking industry serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy. Commercial trucks represent 68.5 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods, according to the ATA. Trucks hauled 9.4 billion tons of freight in 2012, according to the ATA.
“The health of the freight market is a very good indicator of the direction in which the economy is moving,” said Rosalyn Wilson, a supply chain expert and senior business analyst with Vienna, Va.-based Delcan Corp. “All indications point to moderate growth in freight over the next couple of months, which will bode well for the economy in general.”
Wilson authors the Cass report and said increased activity is creating problems in the shipping industry, which are not helped by new federal hours-of-service rules that reduce the time a driver can be in a truck.
“Broadly, the Department of Transportation rules reduce a driver’s average maximum allowable hours of work per week from 82 hours to 70 hours, a 15 percent reduction,” The City Wire reported last month. “A controversial part of the new rules, which went into effect in July 2013, is the 34-hour restart rule. Officials in the trucking industry have said the rules do nothing to promote safety and instead drive up costs for the industry, which are then passed on to consumers.”
“Capacity problems are being experienced in both the trucking and the rail industries as volumes grow,” Brad Delco, a transportation industry analyst with Little Rock-based Stephens Inc., told The City Wire. “The impact of productivity‐reducing truck regulations has exacerbated the driver shortage, further limiting capacity despite the strong growth in the size of the truck fleet in 2014.”
The growth of the commercial trucking industry makes now a perfect time to consider a new career in this growing industry, especially if you are able to complete the CDL training program at Hamrick.
If you are looking for a long-term career in an industry that is not only growing, but allows you to play an important part of the American economy, then the commercial truck industry might be the right fit for you. Thousands of truck drivers are needed right now as carriers across the nation are trying to meet the growing demand for trucking services. However, many carriers are looking for applicants who have professional CDL training and experience from a respected school like Hamrick.