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ATA’s ‘U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast 2021 to 2032’ points to

While things are far from certain in freight transportation, supply chain, and logistics these days, a new report recently issued by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) presented a positive future outlook for the trucking sector.

This report, entitled “U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast 2021 to 2032,” comes out at a time when there is no shortage of supply chain concerns, including: ports still dealing with congestion and backlog issues, transportation capacity across all modes remains tight, in large part to labor and equipment availability issues, and the ongoing impact of the pandemic, inflationary worries, among others.

Even though those aforementioned issues remain concerning, the report is optimistic about the direction trucking is heading in going forward, which is a good thing, especially when considering that trucking moves roughly 70% of the nation’s freight.

A top-level look at the report’s findings found the following takeaways:

  • total freight tonnage will grow from an estimated 15.1 billion tons in 2021 to 19.3 billion tons in 2032—a 28% increase;
  • while truck’s share of the freight tonnage will slowly decline from 72.2% in 2021 to 71% in 2032—overall volumes will grow across all segments of the industry: truckload, less-than-truckload and private carrier. Truck tonnage should grow from 10.23 billion tons this year to 13.7 billion tons in 2023; and
  • the total revenue derived from primary freight shipments in the U.S. will increase from an estimated $1.083 trillion in 2021 to $1.627 trillion in 2032

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello observed that given the onus on the supply chain in 2021, it is important to keep in mind the various related “stressors” it is dealing with, including the simple growth in freight demand and the economy serving as significant factors.  

“After falling 6.8% in 2020, freight volumes are set to surge 7.4% this year—and we will see continued growth in freight demand across all modes for the foreseeable future,” said Costello.

And ATA President and CEO Chris Spear added that as trucking continues to look to the future, this report serves as what he called a “tremendous tool for industry leaders and policymakers,” in order to get a more accurate assessment of what may be in store in the future.

“Forecast is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in understanding not just the trucking industry, but the entire freight economy,” said Spears.

Having written about this report in previous years, I came across this observation about a past edition, which still holds true today, perhaps more so than ever, given the odd and uncertain times we still find ourselves in.

“It is worth noting that while the supply chain can appear to be heavily fragmented at times, given its multiple transportation modes, regulations, emerging technologies and trends (think digital brokerage and last mile), many links of the chain often begin and end with a truck. That is something that cannot be overlooked, and the data presented in this report make that very clear.”

The point being here that trucking continues to be a vital cog in our nation’s supply chain, in both good times and bad. I don’t want to speak for others and label things definitively as “good” or “bad,” so I will stick with “uncertain” or “unusual” for now.

To purchase a copy of the ATA’s “U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast 2021 to 2032,” go to http://www.atabusinesssolutions.com.  

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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