Logistics Trends Reflect Recovering U.S. Economy
Logistics trends in the United States mirror an economy that is recovering and growing. That was a key observation in the recently-released 26th Annual “State of Logistics Report” from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).
One indicator of the trend was growing transportation revenues fueled by increases in shipments rather than rates. Another was the growth in U.S. consumer spending, a factor absent until last year from the recovery from the Great Recession.
Total U.S. logistics costs rose to $1.45 trillion in 2014, a 3.1 percent increase from the previous year. The the transportation sector grew by 3.6 percent.
As consumer spending increased, retailers replenished inventories and inventory-carrying costs rose 2.1 percent. The cost of warehousing rose 4.4 percent because of shrinking capacity and a worker shortage, both of which pushed costs up.
Railroad revenues grew 6.5 percent as rail traffic reached its highest annual total on record. The 4.5 percent increase in traffic volume brought the rail industry close to its pre-recession volumes. Total carloads increased 3.9 percent, hitting their highest total since 2006. Intermodal volume increased 5.2 percent, surpassing 2013’s record.
The maritime sector increased 8.9 percent. Shipments through the nation’s ports increased, with East Coast ports seeing the largest gains due to congestion and delays caused by labor issues at West Coast ports.
Air cargo declined 1.2 percent as competition from other modes kept rates down. However, a record $968 billion of merchandise was moved by air—$443.8 billion in exports and $543.3 in imports.
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