Produce and Intermodal Shipments Up Sharply

Sept. 17, 2012
The following highlights of the most recent logistics numbers (from the Logistics Market Snapshot, courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation) show a few bright spots compared to the last highlight report:

The following highlights of the most recent logistics numbers (from the Logistics Market Snapshot, courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation) show a few bright spots compared to the last highlight report:

• U.S. truck shipments of fresh produce totaled 8.9 million tons in Q2, up 24% from Q1 and 1% higher year-over-year, according to a new report from the USDA called the “Agricultural Refrigerated Truck Quarterly.”
• Short lines saw intermodal traffic rise 80.8%year-over-year during the week ending September 1, 2012.

• Import volume through the top U.S. container ports is expected to increase 8.5%in September and remain strong through peak season. In total, containerized imports are expected to total 16 million TEUs in 2012, up 4.2%over last year.

The other market highlights:

Transportation Indexes:

• The Dow Jones Transportation index was up 0.7% during August (based on the stock performance of twenty large, well-known U.S. companies in the transportation industry, average of August 10th thru September 10th);

• NASDAQ Transportation Index increased 2.2% in August (Averaged share weights of NASDAQ-listed companies classified as transportation companies, average of August 10th thru September 10th);

• The USDOT's freight transportation services index rose 0.1% in July 2012. The Index’s reading of 109.6 was 1.9% higher year-over-year (Source: US DOT);

• The August shipments index fell 1.1% from the previous month and also fell 1.1% year-over-year. The August expenditures index decreased 1.1% for the month, and increased 3.8% year over year (Source: Cass Information Systems,, based upon transportation dollars and shipments of Cass clients comprised of over 400 shipping companies);

Imports and Exports:

• In July, the U.S. imported about $225.3 billion of cargo. July U.S. imports have decreased 0.8% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 0.6% year-over-year. (Source: US Census);

• In July the U.S. exported more than $183.3 billion of cargo. July U.S. exports have decreased 1% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 2.8% year-over-year. (Source: US Census);

• U.S. import prices rose 0.7% in August. Import prices fell 2.2 % over the past year. The price index for U.S. exports rose 0.9% in August, following a 0.4% decrease in July (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).


• The unemployment rate in America fell to 8.1% in August despite only adding 96,000 net new jobs, down from the revised 141,000 new jobs created in July. The unemployment rate decreased in August due largely to the lowest labor participation rate in decades. (Source: US DOL)

• The trucking industry added 1,400 jobs in August. The trucking workforce increased 0.1% over the previous month and rose 3.8% over the previous year. (Source: U.S. DOL)


• Railroad bulk carload freight in August 2012 fell 0.7% from July 2012. Freight traffic in August fell 1.4% from August 2011. The decrease in freight rail traffic was mainly due to another decline in coal and grain shipments. Carloads excluding coal increased 3.5% over the previous year. (Source:; this report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units);

• Intermodal rail traffic in August 2012 was 4.3% higher than August 2011 and 0.4% lower than July 2012 totals. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 33 straight months. Intermodal shipments in August reached the second highest volume for the month on record. (Source:;


• The ATA’s seasonally adjusted cargo index remained steadyin July after rising 1.2% in June. The for-hire truck tonnage index rose 3.7%year-over-year. (Source: American Trucking Association |

• The spot market for truckload freight in August rose 4.5%compared to the previous month, and was 17.5% higheryear-over-year. Truck capacity rose 16.9%for the month, and was up 23.6% year-over-year.
(Source: TransCore Freight Index |


• Global air freight traffic in July fell 3.2%from one year ago and remained steady from the previous month. North American air freight in July fell 3.5%year-over-year. (Source:
(Global air freight covers international and domestic scheduled air traffic. North American traffic includes only domestic freight traffic.)

• In July, average international air cargo prices rose 4.7%from the previous month. Average air freight rates were down 4.8%year-over-year. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
(The Drewry Air Freight Price Index is based on the average of rates ($US per kg) for cargoes of 100+kg to 1,000+kg cargoes from Shanghai to London, Moscow, Prague, New York, and Los Angeles.)


• Import shipment volume, in TEUs, at U.S. ports increased 9%in July from the previous month and rose 10.8%over the previous year. July saw the highest volume of importsseen in one month since August 2010, raising expectationsfor this year’s holiday season. (Source: Zepol Corporation |


• The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 9.3%during Q2 2012, down 0.3%from the previous quarter. (Source: Cushman & Wakefield)

Purchasing Managers Index:

• The National PMI fell 0.2 pointto 49.6 in August 2012. New orders decreased 0.9 pointto 47.1 and production fell 4.1 pointsto 47.2. (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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