July 2015


At the end of June the U.S. Department of Transportation released the freight numbers for April. According to the TransBorder Freight Data released by the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics June 25, freight crossing North American borders totaled $93.3 billion for April which was 6.8 percent, less than last April. At first blush, this number might be a bit disheartening but the decline is really the result of less expensive oil and fewer tons of minerals being shipped by pipeline and rail respectively, which besides air, rail and truck the DOT includes in its overall trends analysis.

While some modes saw modest increases, compared to April 2014, the value of commodities moving by truck in April 2015 decreased by 0.9 percent, a value that, when compared to last year’s similar less than 1 percent downtick, reveals a more likely seasonal pause rather than a more serious, continued downward trend.

The good news remains trucks carried 64.2 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and are the most heavily used mode for moving goods to and from NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico. Trucks accounted for $29.8 billion of the $49.1 billion of imports (60.8 percent) and $30.1 billion of the $44.3 billion of exports (67.9 percent)

Department of Transportation figures show that trucks carried 58.0 percent of the $48.8 billion of freight to and from Canada, while U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $44.5 billion in April 2015, up 0.3 percent from April 2014. According to DOT, three out of five transportation modes – air, rail, and truck – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than last year. Who hauled the most stuff between the U.S. and Mexico? Trucks of course, which carried 70.9 percent of the $44.5 billion worth of freight between our two countries.

While some of the overall numbers are slightly down, a closer look at what is being shipped provides a meaningful indicator of renewed strength in the economy and in an important sector—manufacturing. For both Canada and Mexico, the biggest share of goods being shipped across NAFTA borders were Electrical Machinery and Parts and Vehicles and Parts, goods being carried by trucks almost exclusively, although trains had do get a decent portion of business from those categories.

Meanwhile, economic data released by the U.S. government July 2 is encouraging. The dollar is strong, payrolls increased by 237,000 and according to WSJ the market continues to respond to improved economic prospects citing economic indicators consolidating to firm levels. More to the heart of it, the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose to 53.5 in June, signaling an expansion in the manufacturing sector. Meanwhile, the price of a barrel of oil is under a great deal of pressure and at the time of this writing was headed south and expected to stay under $60 for the near future because production is high and consumption is low.

Roamer’s trucking clients haul the raw materials to the plants; they haul the finished goods to the warehouses; they haul the inventory to the distributors and the retailers; and our clients – pretty much across the board – are showing healthy increases, especially in the last several quarters. Existing fleets are hauling more freight, and when we see more goods in transit, this translates into an expanding economy from our perspective.

Another encouraging trend is that fleets are adding independent contractors to keep up with increasing demand. Many motor carriers, when confronted with an improving economy and freight piling up on loading docks, will add owner/operators to their fleets.

To keep pace with the swell of business among many of our clients, Roemer Insurance recently added three more full-time agents devoted to serving the insurance needs of America’s truckers and truck fleets. Across the board, top to bottom, truckers are doing better, and when they’re doing better the overall economy is showing signs of improvement and a better road ahead for everybody.

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According to Fleet Owner, trucker jobs climbed to a record high, up 7,300 in June and the third monthly gain. According to the report gleaned from a recent U.S. Dept. of Labor stat release, the gain puts the total at 1.4585 million, 5,100 jobs more than the record set in 2007.

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Our friends at Overdrive just published a Top 10 list of states with the most favorable inspection climate. The rankings, mined from citation data related to inspection stops put Montana on top and North Carolina at the bottom. If you thought California would be the toughest on truckers think again, the state ranked fourth.

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Transport for Christ has been busy raising its profile lately as trucker chaplains spread the gospel and fellowship to over-the-road truckers around the country. According to the Guardian, As truck drivers grapple with loneliness, improper nutrition and poor healthcare, the organization brings mobile chapels and spiritual counseling to truck stops.

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With the way state and federal road program funds are manipulated, it’s no wonder a recent poll of truckers by the National Retail Systems Inc. found the majority of drivers blame poor roads for serious delays. Further the report in Tucson New Now says that most of the truckers polled also feel the nations roads are as bad as they’ve ever been.

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A story in Go By Truck News reports an East Dundee, Illinois truck driver is getting ready to take the ride of his life. In August, Michael Niss will wrap up a six-month sabbatical and get back on the road, this time behind the wheel of his self-customized tractor-trailer. Niss says he plans to achieve fuel efficiency of 11 miles per gallon.

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