The Current State of the Economy and the Outlook for Trucking

The transportation sector is stagnant. Recent metrics of trucking volumes, such as the American Trucking Association’s monthly Truck Tonnage Index, and Internet Truckstop’s weekly Market Demand Index (which I personally report), have been flat for several weeks to months.

Partly, these mediocre trucking volumes reflect a broader lethargic economy. Second quarter GDP and personal consumption expenditures grew at a meager 1.5%. And, the near-term outlook is far from rosy. The nonpartisan U.S. Congressional Budget Office released GDP forecasts this week that, under some (unlikely) scenarios, see the economy re-enter recession during 2013 (the CBO’s more plausible expectation is for a continued slow pace of economic growth).

There is some semblance of a silver lining: construction activity is improving, as I noted in my previous post, and factory output has been slowly but steadily increasing. However, there is also a lot of broader economic uncertainty. Whereas economic indicators for the second quarter of 2012 were poor, reflecting a pattern of faltering growth, metrics released so far for July and August show potential for a somewhat more upbeat economy during the second half of this year.

In particular, July Retail Sales improved by 0.8%, breaking a three-month trend of declining sales volumes.Industrial Production increased by 0.6%, another noteworthy gain. The Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (preliminary) value for August shows a substantial improvement of consumer confidence. And, more residential building permits were issued in July than in any month during the past four years (building permits serve as a good leading indicator of future construction activity, which is a major component of demand for trucking).

It remains to be seen whether these more positive indicators will translate into improved trucking volumes and help break the industry out of its current flat pattern.

Jeremy West

ITS Business Development Webinar Series

Internet Truckstop with the help of our corporate trainer Pat Dickard and the occasional guest speaker bring you weekly webinars to help learn tools to strengthen your business strategies in the transportation industry. Our webinars are also great for someone just starting in the industry or a veteran in transportation and helps you become more effective and efficient in a competitive economy.

To sign up for one of our webinars you can email Pat himself at, sign up from our homepage at Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for a fast and easy way to learn more about and sign up for that week’s webinar.

Press Release: Broader economic barometers are marginally improving, but it remains to be seen whether this will translate into improved trucking volumes and help break the industry out of its current flat pattern.



New Plymouth, Idaho August 27 2012–There was an increase in the ITS Market Demand Index (MDI) last week. Load availability and truck searching numbers seemed to increase while load searching and truck availability decreased.

The overall average equipment rate decreased. Reefer rates increased while flatbed rates remained the same.

We are seeing an increase in the fuel prices from last week. The lowest average cost of fuel is $3.89 and the highest is $4.25. There is a risk of a price spike due to Middle East tensions.

“The transportation sector continues to stagnate. Broader economic barometers are marginally improving, but it remains to be seen whether this will translate into improved trucking volumes and help break the industry out of its current flat pattern.”
Jeremy West, Internet Truckstop Economist

About Internet Truckstop
Founded in 1995, Internet Truckstop was the first online freight matching service. Listening to the transportation industry is the driving force behind all of the innovative business tools that we develop. These easy-to-use tools, the largest freight database and a commitment to our customers makes Internet Truckstop the leader in Internet freight matching.

Our success is defined by our customers’ success.

For more information on the Trans4Cast newsletter please visit or call 1-800-203-2540 x 6180

Leigh Foxall
800-203-2540 ext. 6180 

New Website Promotes Driver Appreciation and Wellness

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and Internet Truckstop have teamed up to give thanks to the heroes of our industry.  The recently launched website was created to help show support and give thanks to just those heroes. The website was also created to help promote a healthy lifestyle in trucking. You can read our full article on page 27 of our ITS Online Magazine.

Trucking Stats Stalled: Which Direction will the Momentum Eventually Move? ITS Market Demand Index (MDI) up 2% Over Previous Week.



New York, New York – Big Truck TV (BTTV) in collaboration with Internet Truckstop has released the latest Industry Economic Update video webcast highlighting key trucking specific economic data and the macro-economic issues that impact the industry. Also featured, is this week’s highlight interview with a leader in freight transportation forecasting, Eric Starks – President of FTR Associates.


“This week’s Industry Economic Update (IEU) looks at a myriad of key stats impacting trucking and shippers and of note is the fact that the industry seems to be at a pivot point leaving many wondering where it will go from here,” says Michael Carpentier, CEO of BTTV, “Furthermore, very significant issues are on the horizon that could be a deciding factor: the looming fiscal cliff, rising diesel prices, a worsening sovereign debt crisis, the election, and consumer confidence which is consistently battered with bad news.”


This episode’s stats shows a reversal in retail sales reflecting a positive growth in addition to other key indicators showing some strengthening signs as compared to the early part of 2012. Retail sales in July have increased by 0.8% and industrial production has increased by 0.6%. Preliminary consumer sentiment has also risen to 73.6 from 72.3, beating modest forecasts of only 72.4. Another promising change is the uptake in residential construction permits and this could help spur demand in trucking. A very noteworthy stat is that MDI in a similar five-week period from 2011declined 7%, however, it increased modestly over this same period this year from 11.62 to 11.85.


Something to keep a close eye on is the rising diesel prices.  Over the last week prices have increased from $3.88 to $3.98. This rising trend has been going on since the week of 06/25/12 when diesel prices were at their lowest for the year.


In this week’s show, BTTV invited industry expert, Eric Starks, President of FTR Associates, to add some additional insights into the health of the industry. Eric is still bearish about the economy even in light of some positive signs:


“The slowdown that we are seeing in the overall economy is clearly having an impact on trucking. With industrial production output stagnating, it is starting to show up in the amount of freight getting hauled. As such, truck capacity utilization is at lower levels than many thought it would be at this time of the year. Also, rates being charged by truckers have seen a slowing in growth. Another clear sign that truckers are seeing a negative impact from the economy is that the number of new trucks being ordered by fleets has fallen dramatically and is sitting at its lowest level in nearly 2 years. All in all, this suggests that trucking is hitting a soft patch that is expected to continue for the next several months,”  says Eric Starks, President, FTR Associates.


The IEU appears on,, & can be accessed online 24/7. The IEU feature a “news anchor,” who presents data that Internet Truckstop has culled from its operations as the industry leading load board. Big Truck TV is the content expert and distribution facilitator for the online show. Together, the companies have co-produced a series that is highly relevant to the North American trucking and shipping audiences providing an accurate picture of the health of the industry.


Big Truck TV is the trucking and shipping industry’s leading online video and blogging media property, offering a wealth of editorial video content, coupled with real life insights from subject matter experts and both fleet and shipping executives through the BTTV Blog.  


Founded in 1995, Internet Truckstop is the first and largest freight matching service on the Web. Internet Truckstop offers more tools than any other freight matching service available. These easy-to-use tools, the largest freight database, and a commitment to the transportation industry make Internet Truckstop the leader in Internet freight matching.

Internet Truckstop is Now The Official Load Board For Team Run Smart

Internet Truckstop is proud to announce that we are now the exclusive load board for Team Run Smart Freightliner. You can read the full article at our Online ITS Magazine on page 7. This is big news and we could not be more excited for our partnership!

Country Singer’s Radio Show Extends Reach of TCA’s Highway Angel Program


It has been 15 years since the Truckload Carriers Association launched Highway Angels, a program that heightens public awareness of professional truck drivers’ helpful, and often heroic, good deeds on the highways. Now, the organization is able to spread its positive trucking message throughout North America and beyond, thanks to a new Internet-based radio show hosted by country music singer and official Highway Angel spokesperson Lindsay Lawler.

“On the Road to Music City” can be heard twice a week on Renegade Radio Nashville, a unique Internet radio station that plays big name country stars as well as new, unsigned artists. The show attracts all types of listeners, but is especially tailored to truck drivers, who can call in to dedicate songs to their loved ones back home. In between the music — which includes both live, guest performances and pre-recorded tracks — Lawler promotes TCA; trucking events, people, and causes; and the trucking industry in general. During one segment, she describes the true life deeds of Highway Angels, who may have fixed a mechanical problem for an elderly person, helped locate a missing child, or even rescued an accident victim from a life-threatening situation.

“This show is going to do wonders for the image of drivers and trucking,” said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. “It’s greatly expanding the reach of the Highway Angel program, since listeners can be located anywhere in the world. And, in almost every segment, Lindsay demonstrates a respect and appreciation for our drivers that is sure to have an impact on her listeners — both here and abroad.”

Leigh Foxall, director of freight matching for Internet Truckstop, the company that sponsors TCA’s Highway Angel program, agrees. “It’s obvious when you hear this show that it combines Lindsay’s two biggest passions — music and trucking. People identify with music and they’re going to be fascinated by the Angel stories, so this is an outstanding way for our program to gain a bigger foothold in the public consciousness.”

How did Lawler, who has not yet signed with a major record label, score her own radio show? For one thing, she already had 10 years of experience working in radio prior to launching her full-time music career. Another stroke of luck was that one of the founders of Renegade Radio Nashville, “Captain Jack” Aponte, is a former truck driver who has great respect for the profession. He has known Lawler for years and considers her to be a talented artist who brings a fresh, new dynamic to the station.

“I share Lindsay’s goal in wanting to reach out to drivers. With her, they have someone they can relate to… a friend to help pass all those lonely hours on the road,” he said.

Tune in to “On the Road to Music City” live every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-8 p.m. (CT) Free apps for mobile devices can be downloaded from the site, or listeners can search for “Renegade Radio Nashville” wherever they normally shop for apps. Once an app is installed, drivers can listen by plugging their mobile device in to speakers, an iPod, etc. Song requests or comments can be phoned in during the show to (615) 696-6095.

For more details about Lindsay Lawler and her music, visit