July 16, 2014 2:30 PM, EDT

Economy Expands Modestly; Demand for Trucking Rises, Fed Says


The economy continued to expand moderately from late May to early July in most of the country with broad-based demand for trucking and rail services rising, the Federal Reserve said.

Transportation activity rose at a moderate pace since the previous survey period, and the Richmond District reported strong growth in port container traffic, with increases in imports and exports, the Fed said in its Beige Book report released July 16.

An executive at a national freight trucking firm in the Richmond District reported a spike in demand for shipping as home improvement stores stocked up for Fourth of July sales.

The Philadelphia District reported demand continued to rise at a moderate rate for truck shipping loads. The district reported capacity utilization levels for trucking are approaching a tipping point that could spark sharp price increases and greater efforts to expand capacity.

In Cleveland, freight executives characterized volume as good or strong and said revenues are above year-ago levels. Port officials in the district reported growth in container traffic. Officials reported some diversions from the West Coast as shippers used East Coast ports to avoid potential labor issues during contract negotiations.

Several regions noted a shortage of truck drivers, including the Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta and Kansas City districts.

Dallas reported intermodal cargo volumes increased over the past month but were even with year-ago levels.

The Fed releases its Beige Book report eight times a year.  The report, which covered the period from May 23 to July 7, was prepared by the Federal Reserve of Kansas City.