January NAFTA freight for trucking increases sharply from December

March 26, 2020

Tyson Fisher


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in January trucks moved 63% of January NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. The year started on a positive note, especially for trucking freight, which experienced the only month-to-month increase.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by 0.8% compared with December, when NAFTA freight went down by 2.7% compared with the previous month.

Compared to January 2019, freight was up 1.5% after a 4% year-to-year increase in December and a 4% decrease in November. December NAFTA’s yearly increase broke a four-month losing streak, the first streak of year-to-year decreases since 2016. August 2016 broke a long year-to-year decline streak that began in January 2015 and lasted through July 2016.

In 2019, NAFTA freight decreased by 0.8% compared to the previous year, with 63% of that freight carried by trucks. In January 2019, NAFTA freight kicked off the year with a 1.1% year-to-year decrease but a 3.2% month-to-month increase

January NAFTA freight for trucking
Truck cross-border freight value by state compared to December. Blue states denote an increase, while orange states denote a decrease. (Courtesy Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

Trucks carried more than $61 billion of the more than $97 billion of cross-border imports and exports in January, up nearly 7% from December but down more than 3% compared with January 2019. January’s monthly increase for trucking freight was the largest since March 2019, when truck NAFTA freight went up 12%.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight increased by 4%, whereas Mexico freight decreased by 1%. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, motor vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, plastics, and measuring/testing instruments.

January NAFTA freight totaled $97.1 billion, up by $750 million from the previous month and an increase of nearly $1.5 billion from January 2019.

Pipeline freight accounted for the largest increase at nearly 50% after an increase of 40% in December. Trucking suffered the largest year-to-year decrease at 3.2%, but accounted for the only month-to-month increase.

More than 54% of U.S.-Canada January NAFTA freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 15.4%. Of the nearly $50 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried more than 71% of the loads.

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.