Signs of Economic Expansion

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

Over-the-road trucked shipments rose 1% in June, following declines in the two previous months, and overall trucked shipments increased 2.2% 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 2.3% in May after dropping 0.6% in April. And according to the TransCore Freight Index, the spot market for truckload freight in June rose 14% from the previous month, and was 36% higher year-over-year. The freight rate index cost-per-mile decreased to $2.43 in July 2011, down from $2.48 in June 2011.

Railroad bulk carload freight in June fell 0.7% from May’s numbers but June’s freight traffic increased 0.9% over June 2010, and was up 11.6% over June 2009, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). AAR also reports that intermodal rail traffic in June 2011 was 4.6% higher than June 2010 but 0.3% lower than May 2011 totals. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 19 straight months.

Global air freight in May fell 4.3% from a year ago and was up 1.2% over the previous month. North American air freight decreased 1.2% in May year-over-year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In May, U.S. ports imported more than $67 billion of cargo via ocean. May U.S. ocean imports have increased 7% in terms of value over the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the same month, U.S. ports exported more than $48 billion of cargo via ocean. May U.S. ocean exports have decreased 1% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 27% year-over-year.

U.S. import prices decreased 0.5% in June, the first monthly decline since June 2010. The price index for U.S. exports rose 0.1% in June after rising 0.2% the previous month.

On the warehousing and distribution front, the U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 9.3% during Q2 2011, reports Cassidy Turley. That’s down from 9.5% in the previous quarter.

In Q2 2011 warehouse and distribution rental rates in the U.S. averaged $5.09 per square foot, up from $5.05 per square foot in the previous quarter.

The National Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) increased 1.8 points to 55.3 in June 2011 and indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 23rd consecutive month, according to the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). New orders increased 0.6 points to 51.6 and production increased 0.5 points to 54.5. (The PMI combines data on new orders, inventory, production, supplier deliveries, and employment. A reading above 50 indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.)

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