The latest logistics numbers show heartening news for the economy, according to a summary courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.
• In July, the U.S. exported more than $178 billion of cargo… the highest volume on record.
• U.S. businesses posted 3.2 million job openings in July, a 13.3% year-over-year increase and the highest number of job openings posted since August 2008.
• The trade, transportation, and utilities industries accounted for the largest gains of 551,000 job openings, a 33% increase from a year ago.
• The number of freight cars in storage decreased to 271,404 (17.8% of the fleet) on September 1, down 5,539 cars from a month earlier.
• The number of railcars in storage is now at its lowest level since the 2008-2009 recession and was the strongest monthly drawdown of parked railcars since April.
The Dow Jones Transportation index was flat in August while the NASDAQ Transportation Index was up 2.5%. In July the USDOT's freight transportation services index was the same as the previous month. The index’s reading of 108.3 matched its second-highest reading since August 2008, topped only by March of this year. The index is up 3.8% year-over-year.
Meanwhile, the Cass Freight Index showed the August shipments index rose 1.9% over the previous month, and increased 4.4% year over year. The August expenditures index was down 3.8% for the month but was up 15.8% year over year. That’s based on transportation dollars and shipments of Cass clients comprised of over 400 shipping companies.
In July, the U.S. imported about $222.8 billion of cargo. July U.S. imports have decreased 0.2% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 13.6% year-over-year, according to the U.S. Census.
In July, according to the U.S. Census, the U.S. exported more than $178 billion of cargo (the highest on record). July U.S. exports have increased 3.6% in terms of value over the previous month and grew 15.1% year-over-year.
Import & Export Price Index
U.S. import prices decreased 0.4% in August, led by a 1.8% drop in fuel prices. The price index for U.S. exports rose 0.5% in August after declining 0.4% the previous month.
Railroad bulk carload freight in August remained flat since July 2011. August freight traffic decreased 0.3% since August 2010 and was up 5.8% over August 2009, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). AAR also reports that intermodal rail traffic in August 2011 was 0.4% higher than August 2010. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 21 straight months.
Global air freight in July fell 0.4% from a year ago and was up 0.5% compared to the previous month. North American air freight increased 2% in July year-over-year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Import shipment volume, in TEUs, at U.S. ports increased 8.21% in August over the previous month, but decreased 2.79% from the previous year. The total number of shipments in August increased nearly 10% from July while also showing a decrease of 0.65% from August 2010, according to Zepol.
Container rates for the week of September 12th remained stable at $1,653 per FEU. The benchmark container rate was still 35% lower than the $2,546 per FEU rate in the same week last year, and 22% below the $2,119 per FEU high for 2011 in early January, according to the Journal of Commerce and Drewry Inc.
Warehousing & Distribution
The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 10.33% during Q2 2011, reports Colliers International. That’s down from 10.1% in the previous quarter.
In Q2 2011 warehouse and distribution rental rates in the U.S. averaged $4.63 per square foot.