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The Trucking Industry Should Stay Strong Through 2019

Information from trucking economists points to continued growth in the trucking industry at least for the next 18 months. According to Bob Costello, the chief economist with the American Trucking Association, the industry is currently doing well due to strong e-commerce sales and a surge in housing starts. This trend is expected to continue through 2019 and could possibly go on well after that. 

"Not since we've come out of the Great Recession [in 2010] have all of these [economic factors] come together to provide an environment where freight is this solid," Costello said during a conference with investors reported on by

Trade Negotiations Will Impact the Future

The upcoming negotiations with Canada and Mexico concerning the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will have an impact on the industry. Costello called NAFTA "hugely important to trucking." Trucks move most of the goods that cross over the Canadian and Mexican borders, and that adds up to about $6.6 billion of revenue annually. There are over 30,000 jobs tied up in those particular runs.

Additional trade deals will further impact the trucking industry and economy as a whole. Costello sited trade wars and tariffs as the biggest risks to the industry's future continued growth. "The risks to the economy are self-imposed," he said. 

More Drivers and More Trucks Will be Needed

If freight volume continues to rise as it currently is, more drivers will be needed to meet demand. In 2017 the industry needed about 50,000 more drivers, according to Depending on the level of growth, that number could be all the way up to 175,000 by 2016, according to Costello. 

There will also need to be trucks for those drivers to use to complete the job, which means the industry should see continued growth in truck sales, too. Currently, demand is strong for both leasing companies and motor carriers. Estimates put the number of Class 8 trucks ordered for this year at 19 percent higher than last year. That should total around 305,000, according to Costello.