Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trucking companies haul in a freight rebound in January

Freight conditions continued to improve in January, which saw the best year-to-year tonnage increase in five years, according to the American Trucking Associations.

The trade group said in a Wednesday release that its seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index rose 3.1 percent in January, building on a 1.3 percent gain in December. Compared with shipping activity during January 2009, the index leaped 5.7 percent, the largest year-to-year gain since January 2005.

The freight industry spent much of last year battling a freight slowdown that reflected the general recession and caused problems for numerous trucking companies, such as Overland Park’s YRC Worldwide Inc. The company came close to a potential bankruptcy filing before bondholders agreed Dec. 30 to swap a third of the company’s debt for a majority share of the company’s stock.

Bob Costello, the associations’ chief economist, said the January figures and isolated examples from various trucking lines show that a recovery in the industry is under way.

“While I don’t expect tonnage to continue growing as robustly as it did in January, the industry is finally moving in the right direction,” Costello said in a release. “Although there are still risks that could throw the rebound off track, the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish.”

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