Logistics Numbers Improving

The latest logistics numbers show heartening news for the economy, according to a summary courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.
• In July, the U.S. exported more than $178 billion of cargo… the highest volume on record.
• U.S. businesses posted 3.2 million job openings in July, a 13.3% year-over-year increase and the highest number of job openings posted since August 2008.
The trade, transportation, and utilities industries accounted for the largest gains of 551,000 job openings, a 33% increase from a year ago.
• The number of freight cars in storage decreased to 271,404 (17.8% of the fleet) on September 1, down 5,539 cars from a month earlier.
• The number of railcars in storage is now at its lowest level since the 2008-2009 recession and was the strongest monthly drawdown of parked railcars since April.

The Dow Jones Transportation index was flat in August while the NASDAQ Transportation Index was up 2.5%. In July the USDOT's freight transportation services index was the same as the previous month. The index’s reading of 108.3 matched its second-highest reading since August 2008, topped only by March of this year. The index is up 3.8% year-over-year.

Meanwhile, the Cass Freight Index showed the August shipments index rose 1.9% over the previous month, and increased 4.4% year over year. The August expenditures index was down 3.8% for the month but was up 15.8% year over year. That’s based on transportation dollars and shipments of Cass clients comprised of over 400 shipping companies.
Import Volumes

In July, the U.S. imported about $222.8 billion of cargo. July U.S. imports have decreased 0.2% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 13.6% year-over-year, according to the U.S. Census.

Export Volumes

In July, according to the U.S. Census, the U.S. exported more than $178 billion of cargo (the highest on record). July U.S. exports have increased 3.6% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 15.1% year-over-year.

Import & Export Price Index

U.S. import prices decreased 0.4% in August, led by a 1.8% drop in fuel prices. The price index for U.S. exports rose 0.5% in August after declining 0.4% the previous month.

Rail
Railroad bulk carload freight in August remained flat since July 2011. August freight traffic decreased 0.3% since August 2010 and was up 5.8% over August 2009, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). AAR also reports that intermodal rail traffic in August 2011 was 0.4% higher than August 2010. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 21 straight months.
Air
Global air freight in July fell 0.4% from a year ago and was up 0.5% compared to the previous month. North American air freight increased 2% in July year-over-year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Ports
Import shipment volume, in TEUs, at U.S. ports increased 8.21% in August over the previous month, but decreased 2.79% from the previous year. The total number of shipments in August increased nearly 10% from July while also showing a decrease of 0.65% from August 2010, according to Zepol.
Container rates for the week of September 12th remained stable at $1,653 per FEU. The benchmark container rate was still 35% lower than the $2,546 per FEU rate in the same week last year, and 22% below the $2,119 per FEU high for 2011 in early January, according to the Journal of Commerce and Drewry Inc.
Warehousing & Distribution
The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 10.33% during Q2 2011, reports Colliers International. That’s down from 10.1% in the previous quarter.
In Q2 2011 warehouse and distribution rental rates in the U.S. averaged $4.63 per square foot.

The National PMI decreased 0.3 points to 50.6 in August 2011. The August PMI was the lowest since July 2009, but has indicated expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 25th consecutive month. New orders increased 0.4 points to 49.6 and production decreased 3.7 points to 48.6, according to the Institute of Supply Manageme
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