- The cost of warehousing was up 7.6 percent in 2012.
- In 2012, we saw strengths in the manufacturing industry and consumers/businesses were optimistic. However in the fourth quarter, the industry started to take a downturn which can be attributed to effects of the fiscal cliff. Even with the fiscal resolution, the industry has not rebounded in 2013.
- Manufacturing in 2011-2013 looked like it was expanding because it was above the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) threshold, but it was actually declining and in May of 2013, dropped below the threshold.
- One of the leading manufacturing sectors for U.S. exports was motor vehicles and parts, up by 10.1 percent from 2011. Capital goods and industrial supplies are the leading export categories.
- Retail sales grew by 5.2 percent, but end-of-year holiday sales were much lower than expected.
- Truck transportation costs rose only 2.9 percent in 2012. With utilization rates at 95 to 97 percent, expected capacity pressures will push rates up quickly.
- The trucking industry is maintaining a tenuous balance between supply and demand, a balance that will likely be disrupted when regulatory issues, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Hours of Service (HOS) rule, will reduce existing drivers’ productivity, leading to a capacity contraction.
- Currently, the industry is short about 30,000 drivers. The HOS regulation that went into effect July 1, could create a net of 2 to 5 percent reduction in industry productivity, projecting a need for another 100,000 drivers, without an increase in shipping volume.
- The U.S. Labor Department forecasts that truck drivers will account for 43 percent of the growth in logistics jobs in the coming years.
- Truck sales gained strength, but have not reached replacement levels; used truck prices soared and the supply has dwindled.
- The railroad industry has continued to remain strong, despite the recession, and this particular industry is poised to take business from struggling transportation sectors, including trucks and ocean carriers.
- The cost for rail transportation was up 4.9 percent in 2012, down from an increase of more than 16 percent in 2011.
- Intermodal volume was the second highest on record which benefited rail, the heart of intermodal.
- While still experiencing slow growth, U.S. ports’ cargo volumes did not expand as much in 2012.
- Global volumes are down, ocean carriers have taken hits financially; rates have not stabilized and announced rate hikes have been hard to maintain with competitors willing to undercut prices.
- Costs for the water sector declined 0.9 percent in 2012.
- Great Lakes shipping showed signs of recovery in 2012, after several slow years.
- Maritime infrastructure, especially inland waterways, is in dire need of investment and Congress is formulating a comprehensive waterways package to address the issue.
- The inland waterway transportation system was disrupted frequently last year, with river flow problems affecting navigation. The severe drought reduced river levels, which resulted in temporary closures for emergency dredging.
- Domestic air cargo ton-miles were up 2 percent and international were down 3.9 percent, for a total drop of 3.6 percent.
- Jet fuel prices were up 2.9 percent.
- The growth of cargo space in passenger jet bellies and their relative cost advantage is putting significant pressure on all cargo jets.
- China’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose after months of decline; however close examination shows only domestic manufacturing is up, while new export orders and backlogs are still contracting.
- We are not seeing an increase in consumer spending, as household disposable incomes are decreasing and personal savings are going up.