New COVID-19 cases threaten economic, commercial-vehicle recovery, ACT says

Coronavirus Graph
While market indicators at the beginning of June signaled improvements in the trucking industry, an increase in COVID-19 cases threatens the nation’s economic recovery.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The tug of war between positive and negative influences on the business environment and trucking industry reached a pivotal juncture at the end of June, but a sharp escalation in new COVID-19 cases since mid-June threatens to abort the fledgling recovery. That’s according to ACT Research’s recently released Transportation Digest.

“The sudden shock of the COVID-19 recession pushed the market off the edge of the cliff in March and April, but almost as swift and sharp was the rebound in the economy and in freight in May and June,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior Analyst.

The Transportation Digest, which combines proprietary ACT data and analysis from a variety of sources, paints a comprehensive picture of trends that impact transportation and commercial vehicle markets. The monthly report is designed to provide a quick overview of transportation insights for use by fleet and trucking executives, and reviews top-level considerations such as for-hire indices, freight, heavy- and medium-duty segments, the US trailer market, used truck sales information and an overview of the United States’ macroeconomy.

“Recognizing that we are at a fork in the road, our guess is the positive momentum of the last two months can be sustained, but that depends on the ongoing trajectory of the contagion curve, future policy responses, changes impacting key goods-producing and distribution industry activities, and international economics, just to name a few,” Vieth said.

Reports released in early June hinted that economic recovery was proceeding at a stronger-than-expected pace, spurring a burst of optimism for the trucking industry.

“Unfortunately, toward the end of June, a resurgence of COVID-19 across many states raised the specter of renewed closings and possible acceleration of layoffs, highlighting the uncertainty that still clouds the business outlook,” Vieth said, noting that the pandemic is not the only point of concern, despite its top billing.

“The US energy sector remains vulnerable, increased trade tensions with China are another consideration, as well as the restructuring of the retail sector, and from there we can’t forget potential issues surrounding commercial real estate as well as general credit market conditions that may pose risks just over the horizon,” he said.

To help track noteworthy high-frequency macroeconomic and transportation-specific indicators, ACT Research offers a COVID-19 Market Watch webpage.

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