Retail and Job Numbers Decorate 4th Quarter Image copyright Jamie Grill Photography via Getty Images

Retail and Job Numbers Decorate 4th Quarter

The most recent economic indicators are bullish on the retail front for 2014’s fourth quarter.

The following highlights come courtesy of the Logistics Market Snapshot, from the Georgia Center of Innovation:

  • The National Retail Federation forecasts $617.9 billion in holiday spending this year, a 4.1% increase over 2013. (Source: National Retail Federation).
  • Online holiday sales are expected to grow between 8 -11% over last holiday season to as much as $105 billion. (Source: National Retail Federation)
  • U.S. retailers are expected to hire between 725,000 and 800,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, potentially more than they actually hired during the 2013 holiday season (768,000). (Source: National Retail Federation)
  • The U.S. GDP increased 4.6% in Q2 of 2014 according to the third estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. (Source: U.S. BEA)
  • Monthly job cuts fell to their lowest level in 14 years in September, as U.S. based employers announced workforce reductions totaling 30,477 during the month. As Q4 begins, 2014 is on pace to be the lowest job-cut year since 1997. (Source: www.challengergray.com)

The other market highlights:

Transportation Indexes:

• Dow Jones Transportation index fell 7.4% during the month of September. Stock performance of twenty large, well known U.S. companies in the transportation industry, average of September10 ththru October10th)

• NASDAQ Transportation Index decreased 9.1% in September (Averaged share weights of NASDAQ-listed companies classified as transportation companies, average of September10 thru October 10th)

• The USDOT's freight transportation services index rose 0.6% in August 2014. The index’s leading of 120.9 was up 3.8% from August 2013. (Source: US DOT)

• The September shipments index fell 1.4% from the previous month and rose 0.7% year-over-year.The September expenditures index rose 0.8% for the month, and increased 3.5% year-over-year. (Source: Cass Information Systems | Cass info.com) (Based upon transportation dollars and shipments of Cass clients comprised of over 400 shipping companies)

Imports and Exports:

• In August, the U.S. imported about $238.6 billion of cargo. August U.S. imports rose 0.1% in terms of value from July, and rose 3.7% year-over-year. (Source: US Census)

• In August, the U.S. exported nearly $198.5 billion of cargo, the highest on record August U.S. exports have increased 0.2% in terms of value over the previous month and rose 4.1%year-over-year. (Source: US Census)

• U.S. import prices fell 0.5% in September. Import prices fell 0.9% over the past year. The price index for U.S. exports fell 0.2% in September. Export prices decreased 0.2% year-over-year. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Employment:

• The unemployment rate in America fell to 5.9% in September2014 as there were 248,000 net new jobs. (Source: US DOL)

• The trucking industry workforce increased by 3,800 employees in September. The trucking workforce increased 2.3% over the previous year. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Rail:

• Railroad bulk carload freight in September 2014 fell 0.5% from August 2014.  Freight traffic in September rose 2.7% from September 2013. Carloads excluding coal increased 5.6% over the previous year. (Source: AAR.org) (Report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units)

• Intermodal rail traffic in September 2014 was 4.5% higher than in September 2013, and rose 0.2% from August 2014. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 58 straight months. (Source: AAR.org) (Report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units)

Trucking:

• The ATA’s seasonally adjusted cargo index rose 1.6% in August. The August index is the highest on record. The for-hire truck tonnage index rose 4.5% from August 2013. (Source: American Trucking Association | Trucking.org)

• The spot market for truckload freight in September fell 6.0% compared to the previous month, and was 39% higher year-over-year. Truck capacity rose 7.8% for the month, and increased 17% year-over-year. (Source: DAT Trendlines| www.dat.com)

Air:

• Global air freight traffic in August increased 5.1% from one year ago, and rose 0.2% from the previous month. North American air freight in August rose 5.5% year-over-year. (Source: IATA.org) (Global air freight covers international and domestic scheduled air traffic.)

• In August, the index of East-West air cargo rates rose 0.5% overthe previous month, and as 6.2% higher year-over-year. The average price of air cargo leaving the United States in August stood at $3.34per kilogram. (Source: Drewry) (The Drewry East-West Air Freight Price Index is based on the average of rates ($US per kg) for air freight services on 21 major East-West routes.)

Ocean:

• Import volume through major U.S. container ports is expected to total 1.53 million containers in October, breaking the previous record set in August. In August, the latest month for which numbers are available, U.S. container ports handled 1.52 million TEUs, a 1.5% increase from the previous month and a 2.1% increase from the same month last year. Total U.S. containerized imports are expected to increase 5.3% in 2014. (Source: NRF/Hackett Associates)

Warehousing:

• The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 7.7% during Q22014, down from 7.9% in the previous quarter. Overall vacancy was 10.7% in Atlanta and 7.1% in Savannah during the second quarter.(Source: Colliers International)

Purchasing Managers Index:

• The National PMI fell 2.4 points to 56.6 in September 2014. New orders fell 6.7points to 60.0 and production increased 0.1 of a point to 64.6. (Source: Institute for Supply Management) (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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