Cass Freight Index® Archive


August 2021 - Freight is strong (up 12% y/y), but the effects of constrained capacity are being felt everywhere. The overall cost of shipping, across a mode mix reflective of the Cass customer base, is up ~27% year over year.

July 2021 - The Cass Inferred Rates data series shows a 24% year-over-year jump in freight costs. Shipping volumes, still strong, slowed again for the second straight month. Rail and LTL, primarily, are stifled due to equipment and driver capacity constraints. This has restrained movement at the ports and the entire supply chain.

June 2021 - Dollars spent on freight in the U.S. rose 56.4%, the largest-ever y/y increase in U.S. freight spending. Shipping volumes were up almost 27%. Running those two numbers against the same data points in 2020 tells us that overall freight rates have risen 23%.

May 2021 - Another record growth year over year, with U.S. freight shipments up 35.3% compared to June 2020. Compared to 2019, up 3.3%. It’s safe to say the pandemic recovery is progressing much faster than the recovery from the Great Recession.

April 2021 - The shipments component of the Cass Freight Index® grew at a record 27.6% y/y - a better-than-expected result in the pandemic recovery.

March 2021 - Dollars spend on U.S. freight hit the third all-time high in four months. Evenly contributing to the 27.5% y/y increase were rising volumes and rising rates. 

February 2021 - The extreme winter weather of mid-February helped slow the healthy growth in freight we saw in January. Shipments grew 4.1% y/y in February (compared to 8.6% growth in January) and only 1.8% month-to-month, which was well below average seasonal growth. 

January 2021 - Shipments were 8.6% higher than January of 2020, but below 2019 levels. On a seasonally adjusted basis, shipments rose 3.0% from December to January (the largest SA m/m increase since September). This acceleration takes us another step closer to the strong growth environment which we expect to continue in 2021, due in no small part to easy comparisons.


December 2020 - Both shipments and expenditures are accelerating into the New Year. With a tight capacity market, freight rates continued to increase, with overall freight rates in the Cass Indexes up 6.0% y/y (all modes). Truckload linehaul rates were up 1.1% y/y in December.

November 2020 - Sequentially, volumes pulled back 2.2% following five consecutive months of strong recovery averaging 5.0% sequential improvement (SA), likely due to the worsening pandemic numbers. Rates paid, however, went up 2.9 from October, now testing the highs posted in late 2018/early 2019. Truckload rates are increasing, a path likely to continue for some months.

October 2020 - Not only does the V-shaped freight recovery continue, but October's shipping volumes surpassed year-ago levels and marked the first positive year-over-year change since November 2018. In freight pricing, the tight truckload market has caused spot rates to reach heights not seen in a very long time. Contract rates are expected to follow suit.

September 2020 - We saw another big month-to-month improvement in shipping, with September volumes up 7% from August. Year over year, volumes were "only" 1.8% below 2019 levels. This is widely seen as positive news.

August 2020 - Further recovery from the pandemic economic fallout with an 8% increase in freight volumes from July. 

July 2020 - A freight recovery, albeit a slow one, is underway. The Cass Freight Index showed sequential volume improvement but still remains well below year-ago levels and also below where we were in the first quarter of the year.

June 2020 - The Cass Freight Index showed sequential volume improvement again in June, although freight volumes still remain well below year-ago levels and also below pre-pandemic levels.

May 2020 - Freight struggles in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following what we believe was the trough in April, the Cass Freight Index® showed some—but only little—improvement.

April 2020 - The Cass Freight Index showed the expected big dip in activity due to coronavirus and nationwide stay-at-home orders, with freight volumes falling 22.7% vs April 2019 levels. March consumer panic buying subsided, leaving us with just the negative impact of shut-in orders and rising unemployment levels. 

March 2020 - The impact of the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-orders begins to be felt. Freight volumes are down 9.2%. April is expected to feel the brunt of it, however.

February 2020 - Freight picks up from January low point, but remains far below normal levels. Imports from China have been severely affected by coronavirus. Coronavirus concerns create uncertainty for the U.S. economy and freight.  

January 2020 - Shipment volumes dropped 9.4% in January vs 2019 levels, as the index posted its lowest absolute reading in roughly three years. It was also the steepest y/y decline since 2009. 


December 2019 - Shipment volumes dropped 7.9% vs December 2018 levels, as the index posted its lowest reading since January 2018.

November 2019 - Shipment volumes have now been negative for 12 consecutive months. In response, truckload linehaul rates continue to be soft (-3.5% year over year) as capacity remains in excess. 

October 2019 - Dropping -5.9% in October, freight volumes have been negative for 11 months in a row. The rate of contraction is getting worse, and two years of growth have been erased. 

September 2019 - Freight shipments drop 3.4% YoY. Also down are international airfreight volumes, housing starts, auto sales. Tariffs with China remain a threat to U.S. freight.

August 2019 - Against a strong 2018, North American shipments negative YoY for 9th month.

July 2019 - Eight months of negative freight volumes signal economic contraction.

June 2019 - Dropping another -5.3% in June, shipments are negative for seven months.

May 2019 - Down 6.0% year over year, the Cass Shipments Index now shows sixth month of declines in North American freight volumes.

April 2019 - Shipments decline another 3.2% year over year.

March 2019 - North American freight shipments declined year over year for the fourth straight month.

February 2019 - Freight shipments see moderate decline for third straight month; still high compared to last ten years. 

January 2019 - Shipments are down slightly; many modes continue to report limited amounts of capacity. The Cass Expenditures Index is signaling continued overall pricing power for those in the marketplace who move freight.


December 2018 - The transportation economy continues to signal economic
expansion ... people are still making things, shipping things, and buying things, perhaps not at the scorching pace attained earlier this year, but still at an above-average pace.

November 2018 - Shipments increase modestly YoY (.6%) – enough to signal economic expansion. Freight expenditures, however, grow disproportionately at 8.4%.

October 2018 - Slightly slowed growth in goods flow, but at 6.2%, our shipments index continues to signal solid economic growth.

September 2018 - 8.2% growth in freight shipments signals a continued expanding U.S. economy.

August 2018 - Despite Wall Street’s concerns about the increased threat of inflation or interest rates hikes, the data displays accelerating strength on top of increasingly difficult comparisons.

July 2018 - the U.S. freight economy is extremely strong, with shipments up 10% year over year.

June 2018 - U.S. economy is clearly ignoring trade war angst and concerns from Wall Street. 

May 2018 - Demand is exceeding capacity in most modes of transportation - significantly.

April 2018 - Volume remains strong, pricing even stronger. Capacity is still tight, but easing.

March 2018 - The story of strong freight volumes continues; of note this month is an explosion in heavy industrial. 

February 2018 - Volume continues to be strong, pricing even stronger – unnecessarily raising broader inflation concerns.

January 2018 - Shipments and expenditures continue their run of positive year over year comparisons, but at an accelerated pace.

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