ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said he expects truck tonnage to grow at a slower pace in 2013 than it did in 2012, adding that a stronger economic recovery could boost the industry in 2014 and 2015. Costello, who is a featured speaker at The NATSO Show, predicted a two percent increase in for-hire truck tonnage this year, slowing from the 2.7 percent increase he projected for 2012. Costello said tonnage growth had been slowing throughout 2012. Tonnage in October dropped 3.8 percent and marked the first year-over-year decrease since November 2009. In November, however, tonnage increased 3.7 percent, marking the first gain since July.
Costello said that most recently it was Hurricane Sandy that affected freight. “Sandy impacted both October’s and November’s tonnage readings,” he explained. Costello said he expects a boost to flatbed tonnage from the rebuilding in the areas impacted by Sandy, but most of that won’t happen until the spring when the money starts flowing and the weather is conducive to building.
Overall Costello attributes his anticipated slow freight growth in early 2013 to economic uncertainty and the "fiscal cliff." However, he said the housing market and auto sales, traditional leaders of a U.S. recovery, is improving and he predicts housing starts will surge 28 percent to 980,000 next year from a projected 767,000 for 2012.
To hear Costello's latest freight projections, register for The NATSO Show.
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