TRUCKING: Strengthening freight rates support a high floor on market conditions for carriers.
RAILCAR: The 2021 carload outlook took another step down in the latest month and now sits at just over 5% compared with 2020.
INTERMODAL: International and domestic traffic each weakened in September as volumes are metered by providers.
SHIPPERS: Market conditions are stalled at a level unfavorable to shippers.
The economy sent mixed signals in September as consumer spending remained strong, but the industrial sector was weaker. However, the lingering effects of Hurricane Ida played a major role in weaker industrial production. The other big hit was the ongoing semiconductor shortage, which once again led to a big drop in automotive output.
• Payroll employment in October rose by a solid 531,000 jobs, and September figures were revised upward substantially. Employment remains 4.2 million jobs, or 2.8%, below February 2020, seasonally adjusted. The unemployment rate fell, but labor participation was unchanged.
• Consumer spending was up 0.6% in September. Gains in services and goods were balanced for a change. Spending on non-durable goods moved higher while durable goods spending eased slightly.
• Freight volumes remain constrained by supply chain disruptions, and those constraints are keeping freight rates high in all modes.