Cass Freight Index shows signs of flattening volumes

While the Cass data showed growth in February and March following three months of decreases, April was relatively flat on a sequential basis. April shipments at 1.113 were up 12.3 percent annually and 0.45 percent compared to March’s 1.108, with shipments above for the 1.0 mark for the 11th straight month going back to May 2010’s 1.014 breaking the 1.0 level for the first time since November 20008.

By ·

A moderation in freight volumes is apparent based on the most recent release of the Cass Information Systems Freight Index.

While the Cass data showed growth in February and March following three months of decreases, April was relatively flat on a sequential basis.

April shipments at 1.113 were up 12.3 percent annually and 0.45 percent compared to March’s 1.108, with shipments above for the 1.0 mark for the 11th straight month going back to May 2010’s 1.014 breaking the 1.0 level for the first time since November 20008.

And April expenditures at 2.279 were up 34.9 percent annually, and were up 2.6 percent compared to March’s 2.222.

As LM has stated, many trucking industry executives and analysts consider the Cass Freight Index as the most accurate barometer of freight volumes and market conditions, with many analysts noting that the Cass Freight Index sometimes leads the American Trucking Associations (ATA) tonnage index at turning points, which lends to the value of the Cass Freight Index.

The ATA’s advance seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage index rose 1.7 percent in March (the most recent month for which data is available)  after dipping a revised 2.7 percent in February. This index was up 3.8 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, in January and December.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was 123.3 in March, which was up 20.7 percent from February’s 102.6. On an annual basis, the SA was up 6.9 percent from March 2010’s 116.4.

“Year?over?year shipment volume is up 12.3 percent, which is a good indicator that although the economy is not expanding rapidly, it is in fact climbing out of the depths of the recession,” wrote Rosalyn Wilson, senior analyst with Declan Corporation, in a Cass report. “Freight volumes were mixed in April, with rail showing strong growth in the first two weeks of the month, but dropping off after that. Truckload carriers are experiencing capacity shortages, and most truckers are reporting more opportunities to carry freight than they have seated equipment. Higher fuel surcharges and modest rate increases have pushed shippers to be more efficient about their transportation choices, resulting in fewer shipments.”

Even though freight growth is moderating, a modest growth level indicates that things are trending in the right direction, according to Charles W. “Chuck” Clowdis, Jr., Managing Director, Transportation Consulting & Advisory Services, at IHS Global Insight.

Clowdis pointed out that if “job creation accelerates, hopefully over the summer and into the fall season, we should see encouraged consumer spending that will fuel transport level growth.”
The cautious optimism expressed by Clowdis was somewhat tempered by Mike Regan, CEO & Chairman of the Board, TranzAct Technologies, the author of LM’s “It’s Personal” blog.

Regan told LM that he sees the same exact things in the market place that are being brought to light in the Cass report.

“We are at a very critical juncture right now, and I don’t know which way things are going to go,” said Regan. “With gas prices rising and consumers pulling back, one of the issues you need to take a look at is the fact that consumers filling up their tanks once a week at these increased prices makes an impact on spending and freight volumes.”

For related articles, please click here.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Face security threats head-on. Protect data beyond perimeter.
Traditional Data Loss Protection (DLP) solutions present a number of serious shortcomings and challenges for companies deploying them, creating a clear gap in the market.
Download Today!
From the January 2018 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
Industry experts agree that costs across all sectors worldwide will continue to rise in 2018, and the most successful shippers will be those that are able to mitigate their impact on profitability. And, the right technology will play an increasingly vital role in driving efficiencies across the global logistics network.
The Future of Retail Distribution
Navigating the Reverse Supply Chain for Connected Devices
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
IAM, IoT and the Connected Supply Chain
There are three primary models of Identity and Access Management (IAM) technology that CTOs, CSOs, and Supply Chain executives are using to enhance their trading partner communities. While each leverages IAM and the IoT as core components only an “Outside-in” approach truly connects people, systems and things reliably and securely across the supply chain.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
State of Global Logistics: Delivering above and beyond
Industry experts agree that costs across all sectors worldwide will continue to rise in 2018, and...
2018 Rate Outlook: Economic Expansion, Pushing Rates Skyward
Trade and transport analysts see rates rising across all modes in accordance with continued...

Building the NextGen Supply Chain: Keeping pace with the digital economy
Peerless Media’s 2017 Virtual Summit shows how creating a data-rich ecosystem can eliminate...
2017 NASSTRAC Shipper of the Year: Mallinckrodt; Mastering and managing complexity
An inside look at how a large pharmaceutical firm transformed its vendor and supplier relationships...