Traffic congestion in May increased 9.3 percent nationally from May of last year, says the monthly Gridlock Index from Inrix, who says the increase is an indicator of a strengthening economy.
Inrix says its data is in line with other positive economic indicators in the month, including increased retail sales month over month and a spike in auto sales. The average trip in the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the country took on average 7 percent longer this May than last May, Inrix says.
From its congestion data, however, Inrix does say the recovery may be happening at different paces regionally, as metro areas in the western part of the country saw nearly 15.7 percent increase from May 2012 in traffic congestion, while the Northeast saw an 11.2 increase, the Midwest a 9.1 percent increase, and the South a much smaller 2.4 percent increase.
However, on the whole in 2013, congestion is pointing toward a stronger U.S. economy, says Inrix CEO Bryan Mistele. ““The overall rise in traffic in the first five months of the year is indicative of increased confidence in the direction of the economy,” Mistele said. “Renewed consumer spending, especially on new vehicles, means more shoppers at stores, more cars on the road and more traffic on our streets.”
The Federal Reserve predicted in the middle of June that the economy will grow by a rate of 2.3 to 2.6 percent in 2013, followed by a 3.0 to 3.5 percent growth in 2014. It also predicted unemployment could drop to as low as 6.5 percent in 2014.