The economy is not expanding yet, at least according to initial reports of a mere 0.1% GDP growth in the first quarter. Unemployment is drifting down, but a good portion of the “improvement” was in the denominator — people who stopped looking for work, retired or otherwise left the work force. New job openings are not keeping up with population growth. In fact, they are only now beginning to replace the jobs lost in the recession that was supposed to have ended five years ago.
On the bright side, certain sectors are recovering, and those are generating some additional freight volume. Of the recent jobs, 32,000 were in construction. That bodes well for the flatbed sector, as well as van freight, to haul consumer goods that will be purchased by the newly employed and their families.
Exports are up, as well. There was a big spike in freight volume and rates last week on the lane from Roanoke to Baltimore. The Roanoke area is rife with industrial and agricultural activity, including soybeans and corn destined for China.