Trucking Growth Barely Slows, PCI Shows

Trucking Growth Barely Slows, PCI Shows

Record-breaking winter storms across much of the country may have chilled trucking activity in January, but they didn't freeze the economic recovery.

The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index fell just 0.3 percent in January from December, keeping most of that month's 1.8 percent sequential gain.

In a year-over-year comparison, the PCI increased 3.4 percent, making January the 14th straight month of year-over-year growth reported by the index.

"Viewed in the context of a three month moving average, the PCI clearly shows that the economic recovery remains on track," said Ed Leamer, chief PCI economist.

The PCI is the latest index to suggest the economy is stronger than expected.

The International Council of Shopping Centers index showed a 4.8 percent increase in retail sales last month. U.S. manufacturing activity in January reached its highest level since May 2004, according to the Institute of Supply Management.

However, industrial production is still too low to drive "meaningful gains" in employment, said Craig Manson, senior vice president and index expert for Ceridian.

"Our outlook for 2011 is for continued economic recovery and we expect GDP to grow at the historically 'normal' rate of 3 percent," Manson said.

The Ceridian-UCLA index tracks the volume and location of diesel fuel purchased by truckers in real time using Ceridian's electronic fuel purchasing network.

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.