After a decline from September to October, freight activity in the United States was again on the rise, bumping up 1.7 percent, month over month, in November, according to the U.S. Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
The bureau’s freight transportation services index — a measure of tons and ton-miles taken for all domestic transportation and then averaged together — showed November’s index level stood at 15.5 percent higher than the reading taken at the low point of the recession. November’s total was more than 4 percent off the all-time high, measured in December 2011.
The November 2012 total came in level with the total from November 2011, but represented an 8.8-percent rise over November 2009’s total. Though the number is a month-over-month increase, it stands as the second lowest index total since May. On average, the department’s passenger index is outpacing the cargo index by a decent margin.
Freight in the United States is in for a long haul in 2013, with capacity constraints in the trucking industry and continued malaise in the air cargo market predicted by those in the industry.
According to Bob Costello, chief economist of the American Trucking Associations, capacity constraints will be fueled by issues in fuel pricing, a lack of drivers, regulatory concerns, the impact of more expensive equipment, and the sluggish U.S. economy.
"Despite not a lot of growth in freight volumes in 2013, I still think capacity will stay constrained," he told American Shipper
. "The further out you look, there will be some nervous shippers. 2013 will be the start of a lot tighter capacity market." - Jon Ross