ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations Wednesday released its latest ATA Freight Transportation Forecast: 2019 to 2030, an annual projection of the state of the freight economy, showing continued growth in the industry.
“America’s trucking industry, and the overall freight transportation industry, are poised to experience strong growth over the next decade as the country’s economy and population grow,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Our annual Freight Forecast is a valuable look at where we are headed so leaders in business and government can make important decisions about investments and policy.”
Among the findings in this year’s Freight Forecast:
- Overall freight tonnage will grow to 20.6 billion tons in 2030, up 25.6% from 2019’s projection of 16.4 billion tons.
- Freight industry revenues will increase 53.8% to $1.601 trillion over the next decade.
- Trucking’s share of total freight tonnage will dip to 68.8% in 2030 from 71.1% this year, even as tonnage grows to 14.2 billion tons in 2030 from 11.7 billion tons.
- Truckload volume will have an average annual expansion of 1.5% a year through 2024 and 2.1% for 2025-2029.
- Less than truckload volume will have an average annual expansion of 1.8% through 2024 and 2% for 2025-2020.
- Private carrier volume will have an average annual expansion of 1.5% percent year through 2024 and 2.2% per year for 2025-2029.
- In 2019, truckload will handle 71.1% of truck freight volume, LTL 0.9% and private truck 35.1%
- Trucking and total rail transportation will lose relative market share, even as revenues and tonnage grows, while intermodal rail, air and domestic waterborne transportation will show modest growth and pipeline transportation will experience explosive growth – surging 17.1% in tonnage and 8.6% in revenue over the next decade.
As with any industry, forecasts are in part based on what’s happening with the U.S. economy.
The executive summary of the Freight Forecast notes that the forecast is being released when the U.S. economy is experiencing some volatility as uncertainties mount.
“Despite prospects for solid trend-like growth in the U.S. in 2019, investor concerns over rising risks of a downturn after 2019, stoked by developments abroad and policy concerns, resulted in sharply worsening ﬁnancial conditions in late 2018.
“Helped by a dovish pivot in Federal Reserve Board monetary policy, a recovery in ﬁnancial conditions is now supporting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth above trend. The second estimate of first-quarter 2019 U.S. GDP growth was 3.1%, up from 2.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and in line with the strong 2.9% economic growth for 2018. The healthy economy in 2018 resulted in a very strong freight market for the year.
“The robust first-quarter pace of 2019 economic growth is expected to be temporary, as it was driven by two sources of strength that could easily reverse later this year: inventory investment and net exports. Both components are volatile and rarely indicative of underlying momentum in the economy.
“Real 2019 GDP growth is expected to moderate beginning in the second quarter, and we look for a 2.7% increase for calendar year 2019. We predict annual real GDP growth will slow further to 2.1% in 2020 and 1.8% in 2021, with implications for slower growth in freight transportation demand.
“Freight Forecast clearly lays out why meeting challenges like infrastructure and workforce development are so critical to our industry’s success,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “It belongs on the desk of every decision maker in our industry and in the supply chain.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.