ORLANDO. A new “barometer” for assessing the “health” of the nation’s freight industry is being launched by U.S. Bank.
During a press conference here at the 2017 American Trucking Associations (ATA) Management Conference & Exhibition (MC&E), the banking giant showed off its new U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index (to be published quarterly) that will use data from transactions processed through U.S. Bank Freight Payment from clients across a range of industries – including automotive, manufacturing, food and retail – to break down regional and national shipping patterns.
Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, will offer commentary on freight trends as part of the index's quarterly reports.
The company highlighted index analysis from the third quarter include as part of its press event:
- An 8.3% jump in the U.S. Bank National Spend Index, the largest quarterly gain since the final quarter in 2014, reflects a tighter truck market, in part from increased vehicle demand in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, U.S. Bank said.
- The U.S. Bank National Shipment Index increased 3.3%; slower than the 5.8% surge in the second quarter but still solid, considering the impacts from the aforementioned hurricanes.
- The acceleration in factory output as the U.S. dollar retreats from high levels, as businesses began reinvesting in capital equipment.
One of the features touted for this new index is that it breaks down data into five U.S. regions – West, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast – based on the state of origin for a shipment.
“Freight shipments are generally not uniform across the country,” noted ATA’s Costello in a statement. “That’s what makes the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index so useful. It is regional and gives a good snapshot into the differences in economic climate from one end of the country to the other.”
Regional highlights and analysis for the third quarter include:
- The Northeast region saw the biggest shipment index gain, at 10%. The gain was helped along by better manufacturing activity and slightly higher housing starts compared to the second quarter.
- Shipments in the Southeast inched up 0.1%, as Hurricane Irma disrupted the supply chain. At the same time, spend volume jumped nearly 5% as truck capacity tightened.
- The Midwest led the pack in overall spend, jumping 13.3%, assisted by a rebound in general manufacturing activity.
Though this index is new, U.S. Bank said its aggregated data goes back to 2010, to help provide “a sense of trend lines” over time.