After a significant dip during the recession and a mild economic recovery, the U.S. freight economy, particularly for trucking, is projected to grow significantly in the years ahead, according to American Trucking Associations' U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2023.
The forecast, a product of collaboration between ATA, IHS Global Insight and Martin Labbe Associates, lays out the current state of the freight economy -- where trucking is the leading mode of transportation -- and projects an even more robust role for trucks in the future.
"The trucking industry continues to dominate the freight transportation industry in terms of both tonnage and revenue, comprising 67% of tonnage and 81% of revenue in 2011," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello wrote in this year's forecast.
Overall, total freight tonnage is expected to grow by 21% by 2023, and revenue for the freight transportation industry is projected to rise 59% in that same timeframe. Trucking's share of the tonnage market will rise over two percentage points to 69.6% by 2023, while the industry's share of freight revenues will increase to 81.7% from 80.9%.
In other surface modes, rail's overall share of tonnage will fall to 15% in 2023 from 15.7% in the baseline year of 2011. However, intermodal tonnage will rise 6.2% a year between 2012 and 2017, and then 5.4% annually through 2023.
Domestic waterborne tonnage will show very modest growth between now and 2023 - growing 1% annually through 2023. Domestic airfreight tonnage is slated to grow over 4% annually during the forecast period.
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