Bob Costello, the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA chief economist, expects the trucking industry will see freight volumes increase toward the latter part of this year.
“Right now, we’re in a bit of a soft patch because inventories are higher than one would expect,” Costello said Sunday during ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition in Philadelphia. “Once that normalizes, we should see a healthy rebound in freight volumes.”
Costello said that even though business is generally good across the sector, fleets are having difficulty adding capacity because of a dearth of qualified drivers.
“We reported earlier this month that by the end of the year we expect the driver shortage to balloon to about 48,000,” he said. “This shortage is preventing many fleets from capturing additional business because they just do not have the drivers. The lack of qualified drivers remains a tremendous threat to continued industry growth.”
Even without capacity expanding, Costello said sales of Class 8 trucks should remain strong as fleets replace older trucks with newer ones.
Costello spoke at the MCE General Session, sponsored by Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems with Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Inc.