The effects of Hurricane Florence and tariffs on imported goods impacted 2018’s Q3, seeing a 5.2% quarterly decline in freight shipments, according to the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index. Year-over-year, freight shipments fell by 1.1%.
Even with these drops, freight spend still increased by 13.5%, year-over-year. Constrained trucking capacity limited the amount of goods that were shipped, but it is likely the jump in freight spending comes from higher-than-average transaction prices.
Clean up and restoration from Hurricane Florence still continues in the southeastern United States, which will likely boost sales and freight shipments for relief efforts. The demand for labor and supplies is predicted to balance out the freight industry in the areas affected by Florence as the year comes to an end, but it may not see an immediate bounce back.
"As trucking often leads the broader economy, the decreases seen in the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index suggest economic growth may have peaked and may decelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond," Bob Costello, chief economist for American Trucking Associations (ATA), said in the press release. "Despite the sequential decreases in freight shipments and spending last quarter, the national truck market remains solid and capacity tight."
—Christie Citranglo, editorial associate