Unemployment Rate: 8.3% in January 2012, declined from 8.5% in December 2011.
Consumer Confidence Index: 61.1 in January 2012; declined 4.5 points after a surge in December 2011 (64.8). Consumer.
Confidence is unable to sustain improvement. However, if it maintains a positive momentum, 2012 outlook may improve.
Consumer Price Index (CPI): +0.2 in January 2012 vs. the prior month. +2.9% over past 12 months. Core CPI (excluding food and energy) was stable at +2.3% over the last 12 months.
Freight conditions index:
FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) is a compilation of factors affecting trucking companies. TCI fell from 7.1 in December 2011 to 6.1 in January 2012. The TCI has been in the positive territory for over a year, but its still below the growth levels that were seen during Q4 2010 and Q1 2011. FTR is forecasting a slow climb to strongly positive territory for trucking throughout 2012, with volumes and profits sufficient for investment for growth by year’s end.
Larry Gross, Senior Consultant for FTR commented, “The spike in the price of diesel due to Mideast tensions is one factor that has pulled the TCI down recently and downside pressure will continue until the price stabilizes. However, barring a significant economic slowdown from an external factor such as an actual Mideast confrontation, the fundamentals for the trucking industry are expected to continue to strengthen throughout the year, and we could well see a surprise on the upside if important sectors such as automotive and even housing continue to improve.”
*Source: FTR Freight Focus – Trucking Update March 2012
Building Permits: +0.7% December 2011 to January 2012, and +19.0% in January 2012 vs. YAGO. Year-over-year performance continued to be positive, but need stronger monthly improvements to sustain.
Housing Starts: +1.5% from December 2011 to January 2012, +9.9% in January 2012 vs. YAGO. Housing industry sees a positive performance both monthly and year-over-year, but it is still a concern in economic recovery.