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January Market Update: Transportation Industry News


We’re in the full swing of the new year, and eyes are on the many market influencers and disruptors that can affect the decisions you make for your business, from carrier capacity and the driver shortage to government regulations and legislation. This month, we highlight five key factors that impact the transportation industry in North America. We welcome your thoughts on these factors.

Large Scale Market Indicators
In their latest tonnage and economic reports, The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) indicated that some freight growth improvement is expected in 2016. While freight growth in late 2015 was weighed down by bloated inventories, stronger support from consumer spending is anticipated this year. Read more.

Carrier Capacity
Class 8 truck orders fell to their lowest level in at least three years, plunging 60% year over year. However, that plunge followed a big splurge in truck orders prior. The number of tractors operated by truckload carriers in the JOC index group rose 9.4% year over year in the third quarter. I might offer that some of the larger carriers continue to grow their dedicated fleets. This capacity and service is a bit easier to seat trucks and affords for top line growth. So real capacity was created for the purchasers of these services. Read more.

Driver Shortage
The ATA reported that the industry is down 48,000 drivers, while FTR says the number is closer to 100,000. Meanwhile, trucking companies continue to increase driver pay and signing bonuses and are starting to look at how to get more drivers home more often, as drivers cite the lifestyle as a challenge. I will continue to watch these figures trend between unseated trucks, driver retirement, and the impact of other industries attracting drivers. Read more.

Government Regulations
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a lawsuit over the regulation announced in December by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that requires electronic logging devices (ELD). OOIDA challenged a similar mandate in the courts in 2011.

Global Forwarding
JOC Senior Economist Mario O. Moreno expects a 4% growth in U.S. exports for 2016, due to improving global economic conditions and a moderate softening of the dollar against other currencies.