The Cass Freight Index for U.S. domestic shipments pushed up 3.6 percent year-over-year in January, maintaining steady seasonal growth and reaching the strongest point for the month in four years.
The shipments index slipped just under 1 percent, or 0.95 percent, from December to January, a typical seasonal pattern. The index for expenditures jumped 22.1 percent in January, but the measure for actual spending also inched down 0.1 percent from December.
The numbers, based on the $20 billion in freight bills Cass Information Systems processes each year, show shipping demand in the U.S. is tracking with generally normal seasonality. That suggests carriers and their customers have adjusted to the diminished economic activity that followed the bursting of an economic bubble in 2008.
The shipments index has fallen or been flat sequentially for four straight months and in January was 12.8 percent below its 2011 high set in September. But the January level also was the highest for any January since 2008 and the expenditures index, essentially flat since August, suggests shippers are willing to pay the higher costs to get goods to stores and factories.