Logistics Numbers Trend Upward

The latest logistics numbers tell a story of U.S. economic growth. Here’s a summary, courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

Although over-the-road trucked shipments fell 1.5% in February, overall trucked shipments were up 1.7% since February 2010, marking the 15th consecutive month of year-over-year growth, according to the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index. The American Trucking Association’s (ATA) seasonally adjusted cargo index rose 3.8% in January to its highest level in two years. January’s increase in truck tonnage was the 14th consecutive month of growth.

Railroad bulk carload freight in February increased 4.2% over February 2010, but fell 3% from January 2011 carloads. However carloads have experienced year-over-year gains for 12 straight months, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). AAR also reports that intermodal rail traffic in February 2011 was 10.3% higher than February 2010 and 0.1% higher than January 2011 totals. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 15 straight months.

Global air freight in January was up 9.1% from a year ago. North American air freight increased 14.1% in January year-over-year, the highest growth in cargo of any other region. In fact air freight traffic in North America is 10% higher than the pre-recession peak, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). However, as of March 4, 2011, the global average jet fuel price was $134.70 per barrel—up 13.7% from February, and 53% higher year-over-year.

In January, U.S. ports imported more than $214.1 billion of cargo, an increase of 5.2% over the previous month and 19.3% year-over-year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the same month, U.S. ports exported more than $167.7 billion of cargo, (the highest on record) an increase of 2.7% over the previous month and 15.9% year-over-year. And according to Capgemini Consulting, the United States regained the lead over China in overall trade volumes as U.S. exports in Q4 2010 grew 2.5% over Q3. China's exports of goods and services declined 2.9% during the quarter. Global trade increased 2.5% in Q4 2010, following an increase of 4.67% during Q3.

On the warehousing and distribution front, the U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 10.74% during Q4 2010, reports Colliers International. In Q4 2010, warehouse rental rates fell 3% to $4.60 per square foot. And U.S. Census figures show total combined sales and manufacturing shipments totaled $1.18 trillion in January 2011, up 2% from the previous month and up 10.8% from a year ago. Total value of inventory on hand was estimated at $1.45 trillion in January 2011, up 0.9% from the previous month and up 9.1% from a year ago.

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