Manufacturing Rebound Delivers Good News to Trucking Industry

The trucking industry will continue to benefit from a stronger-than-expected economic recovery, according to the American Trucking Associations’ chief economist Bob Costello.

“A robust rebound in manufacturing activity, solid holiday consumer spending and inventory rebuilding each translate in better truck tonnage levels for us,” Costello said.

Costello noted especially positive signs from the manufacturing sector, the trucking industry’s largest customer. He said orders for manufactured goods grew 3 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year. In October, orders for durable goods (products with a usable life of at least three years) jumped 8.2 percent from the same month in 2002.

Costello described inventories throughout the supply chain as “too lean” and predicted a further boost in truck tonnage as inventories are rebuilt.

A close look shows truck tonnage through October up 3 percent from the same 10-month period in 2002. According to Costello, volatility in tonnage has been higher during this recovery than previous ones because businesses are better able to fine tune their needs, increasing deliveries to meet demand on one day and reducing them the next.

“I expect even better tonnage growth in 2004 as manufacturing output climbs higher and job growth gains strength,” Costello said.

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