A sharp improvement in the pandemic, surging vaccinations, and overwhelming stimulus have removed much of the uncertainty surrounding freight demand. The real truck freight market question for 2020 is how fast drivers will return.
At the beginning of the year, we expected freight demand to be strong in 2021, but the uncertainty was still quite high. We were in the midst of a surging pandemic with no clue as to how long the surge would last or how much damage it would cause. Vaccinations had begun, but we still did not know how quickly Americans could be vaccinated. Although we had seen another round of stimulus, partisan control of the Senate was still undecided, so prospects for further stimulus were uncertain.
Much has changed in less than three months. Our freight outlook is now even stronger, and downside risks to that outlook are lower. Although we expect the fading pandemic to shift consumer spending toward services, goods spending should remain robust due to the size of the stimulus and the job growth associated with higher spending on services.
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