March 7, 2013 11:30 AM, EST
Economy, Trucking Began Year at ‘Moderate’ Growth Pace, Fed Says

The U.S. economy started the year “expanding at a modest to moderate pace,” and transportation and trucking activity were mixed as tonnage increased, the Federal Reserve said.

“Expectations for future transportation activity were generally positive” in most of the Fed’s 12 districts, the Fed said in its latest “beige book” report on U.S. economic conditions, released Wednesday.

Manufacturing activity showed modest improvement in most regions, with several districts reporting strong demand in the automobile, food and residential construction sectors.

One industry analyst noted that truck tonnage strengthened substantially in December and January, although contacts in several areas reported a shortage of skilled workers, including truck drivers.

Activity increased in the Atlanta district, as port contacts continued to invest in infrastructure and equipment improvements. Kansas City transportation activity was flat, while Dallas reported declines in intermodal and air cargo shipments.

One trucking company in the Minneapolis region noted an upturn due to increased e-commerce traffic, while a trucking broker in the region announced plans to expand in Minnesota and add 500 more staff in the next several years.

The Fed releases its beige book eight times a year. Wednesday’s report, which covered the period of Jan. 5 through Feb. 22, was prepared by the Kansas City Fed.