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Bottlenecks Increase. Shipments Decrease

| October 18, 2021

Cass Transportation Indexes reports bottlenecks in the ports and elsewhere caused the number of freight shipments to decline from August to September by nearly 5%

This supply & demand dynamic we’re witnessing—along with the cost of fuel and other factors—has caused the average cost of a shipment (not the same as rates) to spike to a +31.4% y/y change. And note – ocean freight is not included in our data.

The shipments component of the Cass Freight Index® slowed to just 0.6% y/y growth in September.

  • On a seasonally adjusted (SA) basis, the Cass Shipments Index fell by 4.9% m/m in September, after a 4.8% m/m increase in August.
  • The two-year stack reversed to a 1.3% decline from 3.7% growth in August.

The softening in September fits the pattern of many data sets, like rail volumes and employment, and we’d ascribe some of the softness to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ida. This suggests some rebound in Q4, but the chip shortage also worsened in September, and that recovery will take longer.

Freight volumes also remain capacity-constrained, as shown by the armada of containerships at anchor off North American ports. Signs are emerging that rail network congestion is improving, which could help things unlimber a bit, but we think intermodal volumes will be limited by chassis tariffs for some time.

Category: Equipment, Featured, General Update, Management, News

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