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July 14, 2020 2:00 PM, EDT

Trucking Freight Increases 3% Year-Over-Year, ATA Report Says

TrucksTrucks on a highway. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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The trucking industry collectively moved 11.84 billion tons of freight in 2019, according to American Trucking Associations’ annual data compendium — ATA American Trucking Trends 2020 — which was released July 13. That figure is a 3% year-over-year increase from 2018’s 11.49 tons of freight.

Trucking generated $791.7 billion in revenue in 2019, a slight decline of 0.62% from 2018’s $797.7 billion in revenue, the report said.

“Despite a challenging year, the data contained in American Trucking Trends shows the industry was in good shape entering the global pandemic,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said.

ATA's Bob Costello

Costello

Trucking revenues accounted for 80.4% of the nation’s freight bill compared with 80.3% in 2018, an increase of 0.12% year-over-year, the report said. Put another way, on average trucking collected 80.4 cents of every dollar spent on freight transportation. Both the tonnage and revenue figures included for-hire (truckload and less-than-truckload) and private carriage companies.

With the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement now ratified and in place, the report also shows the economic importance of cross-border trucking.

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Trucks moved 67.7% of surface freight between the U.S. and Canada and 83.1% of cross-border trade with Mexico, for a total of $772 billion worth of goods crossing the borders.

Broken down by nation, motor carriers moved $343 billion in freight across the 5,525-mile border between the U.S. and Canada, a 1.5% year-over-year decline from 2019 to 2018. However, freight movement across the 1,954-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico increased 1.2% year-over-year to $429 billion.

According to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, vehicles, electrical machinery, traditional machinery and mineral fuels were the top four items imported and exported across the borders between the three nations. Approximately 16,000 trucks a day, on average, enter the United States at both borders, the report said.

“As the North American economies become more interrelated, as well as global, trucking’s importance in international trade will only continue to grow,” it said.

The trucking industry employed 7.95 million people in 2019, an increase of 140,000 from 2018, the report noted. The 2019 figure includes 3.6 million professional drivers. Minorities accounted for 41.5% of truckers, while women comprised 6.7% of the industry’s drivers.

Most carriers are small companies — 91.3% of fleets operate six or fewer trucks and 97.4% operate 20 or fewer.

ATA President Chris Spear said the annual report shows the importance of trucking as an essential industry.

“Sound policy relies on sound data, and American Trucking Trends contains the kind of up-to-date, reliable data that policymakers need to do their job. That is why Trends consistently is found in the offices of elected officials, regulators and industry executives across the country,” Spear said in a statement.

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