The U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index, a quarterly analysis of freight shipment volumes and spending by organizations that ship goods, ended 2019 on a soft note, with both volumes and spending falling in the fourth quarter. However, thanks to strong second and third quarters, spending in 2019 overall was up 3.4% from 2018.
The softer quarter was due to weaker economic activity and difficult comparisons from a strong fourth quarter in 2018. The indexes reflect that parts of the economy, like manufacturing activity, are currently under duress.
The U.S. Bank National Shipment Index fell 4% in the fourth quarter after increasing a total of 10% in the second and third quarters. The international trade environment certainly played a part. While there has been progress between the U.S. and China in de-escalation of the trade war, irregular trade volumes hurt truck freight movement.
There are several reasons for the decline in shipping in 2019:
The U.S. Bank National Spend Index in the final quarter of 2019 was lower as compared to Q3 2019 and compared to 2018 overall, falling 2.7% vs. the fourth quarter of 2018 and 2.5% when compared to Q3 2019.
There are several reasons for the decline in spending:
“I think it’s remarkable that overall spend was up on a full-year basis for 2019,” said Bob Costello, senior vice president and chief economist for the American Trucking Associations. “It shows great resiliency given the challenging freight environment. Even though the U.S. economy is not in a recession, the factory sector is, and it’s absolutely impacting truck freight volumes and spending. But there are some bright spots. The U.S. has taken the first steps of an agreement with China, and spending is up in some parts of the U.S. due to a surge in construction activity.”
“Although we've seen some slowdown, we will be looking for inventory levels to even out and the trucking supply to come back into balance,” said Bobby Holland, U.S. Bank vice president and director of Freight Data Solutions.
To see the full report including in-depth regional data, visit the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index website.
For more than 20 years, organizations have turned to U.S. Bank Freight Payment for the service, reliability and security that only a bank can provide. The U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index measures quantitative changes in freight shipments and spend activity based on data from transactions processed through U.S. Bank Freight Payment. The business processed more than $28.8 billion in 2019 for some of the world’s largest corporations and government agencies.
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Kristin Kelly, U.S. Bank Public Affairs & Communications
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