December freight volumes posted their sharpest year-over-year decline since the Great Recession. The Cass Freight Index, a measure of freight volumes and expenditures, accelerated its decline due to high inventories and a manufacturing downturn. Stifel analyst Dave Ross doesn’t expect a rebound in 2020: “The tariff relief from the phase-one deal seems to be just that–a relief for some, but not a stimulus.”
As the manufacturing downturn weighs on the freight industry, which then weakens manufacturers. Orders for the heavy-duty Class 8 trucks, the big rigs that haul freight long distances, fell nearly 64% in 2019 after a record surge in 2018, according to industry data provider FTR. Another bad sign: Trucking payrolls fell by 3,500 in December. The sector gained just 2,200 jobs during a challenging 2019, down sharply from 44,100 in 2018.
Source: WSJ, Real Time Economics