US Economy Predicted to Improve in Second Half of 2011 According to American Trucking Association’s Chief Economist

Bob Costello, of the ATA, recently proclaimed to be “cautiously optimistic” during a July 12th webinar. Costello predicts the second half of 2011 will accelerate from a growth rate of less than 2% in the first half of the year, to about a pace of 3%.

Despite the recent “soft patch” in manufacturing this spring, Costello believes the 12 month trend of 5.3% increase will help not only the overall economy but specifically the trucking industry as well.

Other factors involved in Costello’s analysis include crude oil prices remaining below $100 a barrel, more hiring by businesses, and Congress approving an increase in the federal debt ceiling. Additionally, Costello believes inflation will remain in check despite the recent increases in commodity prices.

Another good sign is rising export levels are now at pre-recession levels. Trucking benefits from this by more load and economic activity vs. imports which are only delivered and sold. Low inventory levels will also stimulate more business activity and demand for trucking.

A cautionary word was given to the truck driver shortage. As freight volumes improve in the second half of 2011 the lack of qualified drivers will become more apparent and a problem for the industry.

As capacity is still slightly above demand, Costello urged trucking companies to keep a close eye on costs as they move into the back-half of 2011.

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