posted on 26 August 2016
Written by Steven Hansen
Truck shipments were rmixed in July (depending on whose data one uses) - even the BLS employment data remained weak but did improve relative to the previous month. There is no question that the data here is soft, but the trend lines are mixed.
The American Trucking Associations' (ATA) trucking index decreased 2.1 % in June, following a 1.6 % decline in June.
From ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:
Truck tonnage this month
Compared with one year ago, seasonally adjusted tonnage increased 0.3 %.
Econintersect tries to validate ATA truck data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry employment levels were up month-over-month. Please note using BLS employment data in real time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted (sometimes significantly).
Weak Q1 Economics Pull FTR's Trucking Conditions Index Up in April
CASS FREIGHT INDEX REPORT
July's Cass Freight Index confirmed that overall shipment volumes (and pricing) are persistently weak, with increased levels of volatility as all levels of the supply chain (manufacturing, wholesale, retail) continue to try and work down inventory levels. That said, there have been a few areas of growth, mostly related to ecommerce, with lower levels of expansion being experienced in transit modes serving the auto and housing/ construction industries. All of this added up to slightly lower shipment volume in July, the seventeenth straight month of year‐over‐year decline.
We continue to assert the trucking industry provides one of the more reliable reads on the pulse of the domestic economy, as it gives us clues about the health of both the manufacturing and retail sectors. We should note that as the first industrial‐led recovery (2009‐2014) since 1961 came to an end, and the shift from 'brick and mortar' retailing to e‐commerce/omni‐channel continues, we are becoming more focused on the number of loads moved by truck and less focused on the number of tons moved by truck. Tonnage itself appears to be growing (three‐month moving average +2.75% not seasonally adjusted, +3.24% seasonally adjusted). Counter to this, truck loads have contracted on a YoY basis three out of six months in 2016, with June posting the worst comp since December 2012 (‐4.4%). No matter how it is measured, the data coming out of the trucking industry has been both volatile and uninspiring.
Although the data for trucking does not correlate, we can assume trucking growth is sluggish - but the trends are mixed.
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