August was another strong month for NAFTA truck freight

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 10/24/2018

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in August trucks moved more than 62 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. All five modes experienced an increase in freight year-to-year for the fourth consecutive month.

The value of freight hauled across the borders increased by nearly 6 percent compared with July, when freight decreased by nearly 5 percent from the previous month. This is the largest month-to-month increase since March when NAFTA freight rose by nearly 13 percent. Compared to August 2017, freight was up nearly 10 percent. This marks the 22nd consecutive month of year-to-year increases.

In 2017, March had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011. NAFTA freight declined by nearly 11 percent in July 2017, the largest decline for the year.

In March 2017, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014 before going back below that mark in April. That landmark was revisited in October and maintained through November before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December. March marked the first month in 2018 to reach beyond $100 million, which has been maintained through at least August so far.

Truck NAFTA value by state compared to July. Blue states denote an increase, while orange states denote a decrease. (Courtesy Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

Trucks carried nearly $67 billion of the nearly $107 billion of imports and exports in August.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight increased by 2.4 percent and Mexico freight rose by 8.5 percent. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, electrical machinery, motor vehicles and parts, plastics and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $106.897 billion, up nearly $6 billion from the previous month and an increase of more than $9 billion from August 2017.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest increase at 59.7 percent after an increase of 42.4 percent in July. Trucks accounted for an increase of 5.7 percent, the third largest increase behind a 26.2 percent increase in pipeline freight. Truck freight experienced increases of 11.2 percent in July and 5.3 percent in June.

Approximately 56 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 16.2 percent. Of the $53.6 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 68.6 percent of the loads.

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