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
Six Ways Cloud ERP Supports Rapid Innovation
Kenandy is a new approach to ERP that lets you and your team focus on driving innovation, creating new product lines, and expanding your customer base even as you improve your business operations.
Download Today!
From the November 2016 Issue
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that could successfully combine transportation services and technology capabilities under one roof.
Warehouse & DC Operations Survey: Ready to confront complexity
2016 Quest for Quality Awards Dinner
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Best Practices: How to Efficiently Leverage APIs to Increase Your Net Income
Both legacy and modern technology leaders agree that leveraging API connectivity is critical in keeping up with the pace of a world that demands not only speed and agility, but also a deep level of visibility. During this session a panel of technology and industry experts discuss impact APIs can have on annual net income and market capitalization.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...
Making the TMS Decision: Ariens Finds Just the Right Fit
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL)...

Motor Carrier Regulations Update: Caught in a Trap
The fed is hitting truckers with a barrage of costly regulations in an era of scant profits....
25th Annual Masters of Logistics
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and...