Freight shipping in the United States shot up to its highest level in nearly a year-and-a-half in March, signaling a surge in international shipping had reached U.S. networks, according to a key barometer of the domestic economy released Monday.
The Cass Freight Index for shipments grew 7.6 percent in March over the same month a year ago, and grew 4.7 percent over February for the second straight month-over-month increase.
The shipments index in March hit its highest level since November 2008, at the onset of the global trade downturn, and has now grown 14.4 percent from the low point of the downturn in January 2009.
Freight spending also surged to its highest level since November 2008, as growth in shipping costs appeared to outpace the recovery in demand.
The Cass Freight Index for expenditures increased 12.7 percent in March compared to the same month a year ago, and it grew 7.4 percent on a month-to-month basis.
The growth in expenditures comes as carriers in domestic U.S. transport are reportedly pressing for price increases to follow the rapid expansion in rates for international ocean and air shipping.