- The Cass Freight Index's August 2017 report showed almost a 3% increase month-to-month in trucking shipments and a 1.6% increase month-to-month in trucking expenditures.
- The data reveals a jump in trucking freight movement after a dwindling July, and an almost 4% increase year-over-year (YoY) in shipments and almost 10% YoY growth in expenditures. According to the index, August "exceeded all previous years with the exception of 2014."
- While it's universally acknowledged that the trucking industry has been on the upswing for the past 11 months, August's numbers suggest increased movement on account of the industry's response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
July saw a small dip in trucking movement, but August activity was so strong it's likely the industry was positively impacted by the hurricanes.
Even though freight movement slowed or halted while Hurricanes Harvey and Irma raged across Florida and the Gulf Coast, once the storm blew over, businesses, charities and nonprofits needed supplies and disaster relief as quickly as possible. Trucks were the natural first response, as waterlogged ports and flooded railroads prevented other types of freight movement.
The report also noted that consumer spending continues to increase month-to-month and YoY, especially in the e-commerce sector, which encourages utilization of the trucking industry to transport goods bought online. Of course, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, rebuilding required in destroyed areas will likely prompt the transport of construction materials.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) announced last week that truck tonnage rose 7.1% in August, a huge leap compared to July's 0.5% month-to-month gain, and rose 8.2% YoY, compared to July's 2.7% YoY.
Following the hurricane response, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello believes the trucking industry will stabilize and September will see slower growth.
“I suspect that short-term service disruptions from when the storms made landfall, as well as the normal ebb and flow of freight, could make September weaker and tonnage will smooth out to more moderate gains, on average,” he said in a press release.