Logistics Numbers Show Signs of Economic Strength

The latest logistics numbers show some promising economic signs, according to a summary courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

On the downside, over-the-road trucked shipments fell 0.9% in May, and overall trucked shipments were flat on a year-over-year basis, according to the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index. The American Trucking Association’s (ATA) seasonally adjusted cargo index fell 0.7% in April after increasing 1.9% in March. And according to the TransCore Freight Index, the spot market for truckload freight in May fell 10% from the previous month, but was 10% higher year-over-year. The freight rate index cost-per-mile decreased to $2.48 in June 2011, down from $2.50 in May 2011.

However, railroad bulk carload freight in May held steady since April, increased 0.5% over May 2010 and was up 16.4% over May 2009, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). AAR also reports that intermodal rail traffic in May 2011 was 7.5% higher than May 2010 and 0.8% higher than April 2011 totals. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 18 straight months.

Global air freight in April was up 5.4% from a year ago and up 1.4% from the previous month. North American air freight increased 7.9% in April year-over-year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In April, U.S. ports imported more than $219 billion of cargo, a decrease of 0.4% in terms of value compared to the previous month and grew 18.8% year-over-year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the same month, U.S. ports exported more than $175.5 billion of cargo, (the highest on record) an increase of 1.3% over the previous month and 18.8% year-over-year. U.S. import prices rose 0.2% in May, following increases of 2.1% in April and 3% in March. The price index for U.S. exports rose 0.2% in May after rising 0.9% the previous month.

On the warehousing and distribution front, the U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 10.47% during Q1 2011, reports Colliers International. In Q1 2011, warehouse rental rates averaged $4.76.

Reports estimate the U.S. 3PL market is set to grow 10.9% this year to a record $141.2 billion.

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