- Truck freight volume contracted 2.6% in Q3 compared to the prior quarter, the steepest quarterly drop since Q1 2021, U.S. Bank said Wednesday in its latest quarterly shipment index.
- Inflation, consumer spending changes and weaker home construction activity affected the decrease, American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello said in the bank’s news release.
- But not all U.S. regions encountered volume declines: The Southwest saw an increase of 5.8%, preventing the national decline from dipping further in the quarter.
Truck freight volume falls in Q3
Freight shipments have essentially leveled off this year, but the Southwest’s strong quarter underscored the strength of U.S. trade activity with Mexico: In August, the value of exports and imports from Mexico exceeded that of Canada.
“High levels of oil production in the Southwest, as well as strong truck freight volumes with Mexico, helped avoid a much worse quarter for shipments,” said Costello, who is also senior vice president of international trade policy and cross-border operations for the ATA.
Mirroring the regional uptick from this quarter, Marten Transport is expanding in the Southwest and West. The company noted in an investors presentation that it moved into a new facility in Otay Mesa, California, in June, expanded its present Laredo, Texas, facility and bought land in the Rio Grande Valley for a new facility with increased capacity.
Marten’s new investments come as market disruptions in Florida and elsewhere have challenged carriers. The carrier noted for its Q3 earnings that Hurricane Ian negatively affected the company’s Southeast operations, and it also experienced a decrease in intermodal volumes amid the threat of a strike at railroads.
The U.S. Bank shipment index hasn’t undergone a quarterly decline this pronounced since the move from Q4 2020 to Q1 2020. At the time, the bank noted that kind of downturn is normal at the beginning of the year, but supply chain shortages and severe weather put additional stress on the system that February.
The index is based on domestic TL and LTL data with the bank and is seasonally and calendar adjusted.