By David Silver
The transports are among the strongest sectors today; despite the fears of a struggling economy, the weekly and monthly data from the railroad and trucking sectors just aren't showing this slowdown. The following chart outlines the monthly changes in total carloads since the beginning of 2006. Growth has slowed from the 15% rate during April and May, but is still higher year over year. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) now compares monthly and weekly data with the past two years. Levels of rail traffic are approaching the levels realized before the economy crashed back in 2008. In particular, chemical carloadings have bounced back dramatically, and are approaching the peak levels again.
On top of the strong rail data, truckers are acting well today on the back of a few upgrades in the sector. However, the industry data shows a similar trend of weakening (but still growing) tonnage demand for the sector. The American Trucking Association's (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.4% in June, although May's reduction was revised from 0.6%to just 0.1%. May and June marked the first back-to-back contractions since March and April 2009. Compared with June 2009, seasonally adjusted tonnage climbed 7.6%, which was just below May's 7.7% increase and the seventh consecutive year over year gain. Year-to-date, tonnage is up 6.6% compared with the same period in 2009.