A Guide to Logistics Industry Economic Indicators

Logistics Indicators.jpgMy colleagues and I publish a blog each Friday outlining the week’s logistics news. Included in these posts are updates to logistics industry economic indicators. These indicators are of interest to industry practitioners because they provide a timely snapshot of the market’s performance. From this feedback, executives can update their views and assumptions about the industry and its likely path going forward.

I have consolidated into this article a list of the major logistics industry indicators. Hopefully this blog post will serve as a valuable reference document for quick access to these industry indicators. So go ahead and bookmark this webpage! (A Guide to Logistics Industry Economic Indicators)

Statistical geeks’ note: I looked at the correlations for the Cass Freight Shipments to US DOT Monthly TSI and the Cass Freight Expenditures to US DOT Monthly TSI. The correlations for the absolute values of the indexes was highly positive, but the correlation for the rates of change (month-to-month and year-over-year) were near zero. Do you know why the absolute value correlation was high but the rate of change correlations were negligible? Hint, that is the “first difference.”

Indicator:      Cass Freight Index

Data provider:     Cass Information Systems

Activity measured:      North American freight volumes and expenditures

Release:     Typically about three to five business days into the month, measuring prior month’s activity

Scope and process:     The index covers all domestic freight modes, and the values are derived from $23 billion in freight transactions processed by Cass annually on behalf of its client base of hundreds of large shippers. Cass also provides mode-specific indexes including the Cass Truckload Linehaul Index, Cass Intermodal Price Index, and a joint initiative with INTTRA, the Cass / INTTRA Ocean Freight Indexes.

Indicator:     Cass / INTTRA Ocean Freight Indexes

Data provider:      INTTRA and Cass Information Systems

Activity measured:     U.S. import and export ocean container activity

Release:     Typically mid-month, measuring prior month’s activity

Scope and process:     The indexes include import activity and export activity. The indexes are derived from data for executed shipments of containerized cargo processed within the INTTRA e-commerce platform between the U.S. and a selective group of 25 leading import and export trading partner countries.

Indicator:     US DOT Freight Transportation Services Index

Data provider:     Complied and reported by the US DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics from public and private sources

Activity measured:     For-hire trucking, freight railroad services, inland waterway traffic, pipeline movements, and air freight.

Release:     Second Wednesday or Thursday of the month, measuring activity from two months prior

Scope and process:     The index is a comprehensive, combined, multi-modal measure of monthly transportation activity. The data is gathered by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics from a number of public and private sources and includes the following: Aviation Revenue Freight Ton-MilesTruck Tonnage (American Trucking Associations); Rail Freight Carloads and Intermodal Traffic (Association of American Railroads);  Inland Waterborne TrafficPipeline Movements

Indicator:      US-NAFTA Freight Flows

Data provider:     US DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transborder Freight Database

Activity measured:     Value of U.S. exports to and imports from Canada and Mexico by commodity type and mode of transportation

Release:     Toward the end of the month, measuring activity from two months prior

Scope and process:     The North American Transborder Freight Database represents official U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico for shipments that entered or exited the United States by modes of transport including air, vessel, pipeline, rail, and truck.

Indicator:     FTR Trucking Conditions Index and FTR Shippers Conditions Index

Data provider:     FTR Transportation Intelligence

Activity measured:     The trucking (shipping) operating environment, including volume expectations, rates, capacity, and fuel

Release:     Typically released to public in the second week of the month, measuring activity from two months prior

Scope and process:     Proprietary multifactor model aggregating and estimating market inputs. A value near zero represents a neutral environment, a positive value represents a positive operating environment, and a negative value represents a negative operating environment.