Despite the myriad talking points amid the trucking sector, for things like demand levels, high inventories, and excess capacity, 2022 represented what can be viewed as a solid year for trucking, based on data in the American Trucking Associations’ American Trucking Trends 2023 report.
“Trends” essentially serves as the ATA’s annual data compendium regarding the trucking sector. ATA officials view the publication as indispensable for use by motor carriers, industry suppliers, logistics providers, analysts, and public policy makers, among other stakeholders.
As has been the case in past editions, this year’s again provides a thorough assessment in laying out some key themes and trends within the trucking industry over the course of 2022.
Perhaps the most notable finding in the report is that ATA found that the trucking industry moved 11.46 tons of freight in 2022, topping 2021’s 10.93 million tons and 2020’s pandemic-driven 10.23 tons. What’s more, trucking took in $940.8 billion, for all of 2022, representing 80.7% of the United States’ total freight bill. That percentage figure in in line with 2021’s 80.7% tally, while 2021 revenue came in at $875.5 billion.
In terms of labor, ATA reported that the trucking industry employed 8.4 million people in 2022, in “industry-related jobs,” which marks a 405,000-person uptick, with that figure also including 3.54 million professional truck drivers. What’s more, women accounted for 8.1% of drivers, which ATA said represents an all-time high, for the seventh straight year, and is up from 2021’s 7.9%, with 18.3% of drivers identifying as Black, 4% as Asian, and 23.3% as Hispanic or Latino.
Looking at fleets, the report once again made the case for how trucking remains what the ATA calls a “small business industry,” with 95.8% of fleets operating 10 or fewer trucks, and 97.7% operating 100 or fewer.
As for trade through the lens of the USMCA (United States Mexico Canada Agreement), ATA observed that trucks moved 69.1% of the value of surface trade between the U.S. and Canada and 83.5% of cross-border trade with Mexico, coming in at a collective $947.92 billion in goods value.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello put the report’s data—and the current state of the trucking market into proper perspective.
“While the tonnage index increased in both May and June, it remains in recession territory,” said Costello. “The index continues to fall from a year earlier and is off 1.9% from its recent peak in September 2022. A multitude of factors have caused a recession in freight, including stagnant consumer spending on goods, lower home construction, falling factory output, and shippers consolidating freight into fewer shipments compared with the frenzy during the goods buying spree at the height of the pandemic. However, the magnitude of the year-over-year declines is improving, perhaps pointing to a bottom in the freight market.”
Costello makes some excellent points, to be sure. While his aforementioned reasons describe what led into the freight recession, there are a fair amount of signals its impact may be receding, but that is something that needs to be closely monitored.
More information about the “American Trucking Associations’ Trucking Trends 2022” can be found by clicking here.