Truckable Economic Activity, a trucking-specific economic indicator developed by MacKay & Company. reached a new record high of $8.8 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

That result helped TEA post a 4.5% gain for the full year. TEA is the economic measurement of only those parts of GDP that are moved by truck. It has five components: consumption, investment, exports, imports and government.

Consumption, the largest component of TEA, includes spending on durable and nondurable goods, and was up 4.3% in 2011. Investment TEA counts spending on plant, equipment and structures, as well as inventory movements, is the second largest part of TEA. This category saw a 5.3% rise in 2010, reversing a string of year-over-year declines that began in 2007.

Exports continued to expand at an 8.2% pace, while Imports, which are counted as positive in TEA because they generate domestic truck movements, were up 6.5%. Spending in the Government sector, which is the smallest part of TEA and is dominated by activity at the state and local level, was down 4.2%.

The 4.3% year-over-year gain in TEA was far greater than the 1.7% increase in Gross Domestic Product, and, MacKay & Company says, a better representation of conditions in the trucking sector than that portrayed by GDP.

MacKay & Company expects Total TEA to continue to move upward during 2012 with most of the forward progress coming from Consumption and Investment. Government spending is likely to continue to be a drag through at least the first half of the year.