The January 4, 2016 Transport Topics cover story, by Rip Watson, reviewed ATA’s economic reports, showing November freight tonnage barely growing at 0.2%, and averaging only 1.2% over the past three months. Recent years have shown far stronger growth, consistently, which has put a continual strain on truck capacity.
Exceptions? Absolutely! For niche and specialty carriers, like temp control, high insurance requirements, teams, etc., the lull has been less. Recent storms ratcheted up capacity concerns very quickly again. The lesson for now is that capacity can tighten very quickly, with a trucking market very close to balanced.
ATA’s call is that inventories will begin to fall, strong consumer spending will continue (representing about 70% of GDP, and GDP growth is estimated to be 2.6-2.8%, higher than 2015. If it’s true, 2016 could be another challenging year.