Is it recovery yet?

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It’s hard some weeks to stack up the economic reports and figure if things are getting better or worse. This week was no exception, though the manufacturing stats are generally good, and that’s good for trucking.

These reports come from stories or press releases from the American Trucking Association’s Weekly Economic Recap, The New York Times, FTR Associates and the Institute for Supply Management.

First, the bad news: 

  • January Class 8 North American truck orders were 6,221 units, the lowest level since July of 2002, based on preliminary data.  January’s order activity was down 46 percent from December and was 20 percent lower than the same month a year ago.
  • Motor carriers employed 84,100 fewer people in January than they did a year ago.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported that payrolls were cut by 20,000 in January, meaning employers have slashed employment in 24 of the past 25 months for a total loss of 8.4 million jobs.

And the good news: 

  • Those 20,000 jobs lost in January “marked a continued decline in the pace of deterioration,” notes The New York Times. “Economists focused on a host of encouraging signs that suggested recovery following the worst recession since the Great Depression.” These included growth in manufacturing jobs and temporary jobs, as well as the length of the workweek.
  • Manufacturing expanded in January for the sixth consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the ninth consecutive month, according to executives polled by the Institute for Supply Management.
  • In spite of some bad employment numbers, the unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent in January from 10.0 percent in December. January’s rate was the lowest since August 2009. 
  • For-hire trucking companies boosted employment for the second time in three months, adding 2,500 workers in January. 
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce reported orders for manufactured goods increased in December for the eighth time in nine months.