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September 19, 2017 7:15 PM, EDT

Cass Freight Indexes for Shipments, Expenditures Both Rise in August

Freight modes collageThinkstock

The number of U.S. freight shipments made and the amount of money spent to transport them both increased in August, according to a Sept. 19 report on freight from Cass Information Systems.

Cass’ shipments index rose by 3.9%, year-over-year, to 1.158, while the firm’s expenditures index leapt 9.7% to 2.499. Both indexes use January 1990 as a base period of 1.0.

The shipments index has been increasing for nine straight months and expenditures for eight.

In assessing the most recent numbers, the report said, “This is in part because of slightly easier [year-over-year] comparisons, and in part because of higher oil prices they were less strong in August.”

“Throughout the U.S. economy, we are continuing to see a growing number of data points suggesting that the economy continues to get incrementally better. Some data points are simply less bad and a few of them are much better,” said analyst Donald Broughton, the report’s author.

The overall freight recession, which began in March 2015, appears to be over and, more importantly, freight seems to be gaining momentum in most segments.

Donald Broughton

The report looks at freight transportation across all modes, using Cass’ database generated by managing $20 billion worth of freight per year.

Looking at shipments since 2013, this year has been second-best to 2014, when shipments boomed from a strong manufacturing economy. Last year was the worst for number of shipments since 2013.

Using the same analysis for spending, Cass and Broughton found 2014 was again the best and 2016 the worst, but this year has been in the middle of the pack.

Broughton, who is best known for his research on trucking company failures and started his own firm in 2016, was optimistic about U.S. freight in the near future for two reasons: more consumer spending and business spending.

“Data is suggesting that the consumer is finally starting to spend a little, albeit not with brick and mortar retailers,” he said, meaning that e-commerce is providing the incremental growth.

On the industrial side, he said, “The overall freight recession, which began in March 2015, appears to be over and, more importantly, freight seems to be gaining momentum in most segments.”