The U.S. economy should pick up next year to grow at a 2.5% pace and stimulate trucking demand, American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello said.
Speaking during a webinar, Costello said higher factory output and domestic energy production should increase gross domestic product to 2.5% from the 1.7% expected for this year. Increased hiring and higher consumer income also will spur demand in 2014, he said, along with rising demand for cars, light trucks and housing.
“On the demand side, things are looking a little bit better,” he said. “If the economy is doing better, this industry is going to do better.”
Costello cautioned that crude-oil production growth won’t reduce diesel prices much, pointing to a projected 5% reduction next year. The reason, he said, is that diesel prices have been buoyed by steadily growing international demand that has sparked exports.
Unlike his commentary over the past two years, Costello didn’t forecast a near-term “capacity crunch” because the “choppy” U.S. economy postponed a surge expected earlier in trucking demand.
“It is going to take consistency going forward” to increase demand enough that capacity will be squeezed, Costello noted.