Shippers are likely to face steep increases in truckload rates in the next two years, followed by a recession in 2014 or 2015, a transportation economist warns.
The expansion of U.S. manufacturing is buoying freight shipping in the U.S. this year despite weak imports, said Noel Perry, senior consultant with FTR Associates.
Truckload volume should grow 2 to 3 percent year-over-year for the next two years, but won’t climb back to the level of the pre-recession peak, Perry said.
The increase in domestic freight and exports combined with tight truckload capacity is likely to boost truckload rates in the 10 percent range in 2012, Perry said.
“This has been a ‘normal’ recovery for trucking,” Perry said at the Intermodal Expo and TransComp Exhibition in Atlanta. “This upturn is better than people think.”
However, the economy is much more volatile, with less time between peaks and troughs, and wilder swings than at any time since the 1970s, Perry said.
A European recession could shave 1 percent off U.S. GDP growth in late 2012, he said, but Perry foresees a sharper economic shock two or three years out.
The chances for a recession in 2014 or 2015 are “pretty great,” he said, and a recession in China or crisis caused by mounting U.S. debt could be the trigger.
“The solutions you come up with for the next two years must work in the following two years, when the economy will be bad,” he told shippers, carriers and brokers.
Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wbcassidy_joc