NAFTA ends 2017 with 14th consecutive monthly increase

February 28, 2018

Tyson Fisher


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in December trucks moved nearly 61 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. All five modes experienced an increase in freight year to year for the third consecutive month.

The value of freight hauled across the borders dropped 7 percent compared with November, when freight was essentially unchanged from the previous month. March had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011. NAFTA freight declined by nearly 11 percent in July, the largest decline for the year.

Compared to December 2016, freight was up 7.4 percent. This marks the 14th consecutive month of year-to-year increases. In nine of 12 months, there was a loss compared to the previous year in 2016.

Although significant, December’s rise was only the sixth largest year-to-year increase in 2017. In March, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014 before going back below that mark in April. That landmark was revisited in October and maintained through November before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December.

August, November and December were the only months to have a year-to-year increase in 2016, at 0.7 percent, 3.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. August was the first year-to-year increase since December 2014, when freight increased by more than 5 percent.

Trucks carried nearly $57 billion of the $93.51 billion of imports and exports in December. Rail came in second with nearly $14 billion.

Freight totaled $93.51 billion, down more than $7 million from the previous month but an increase of more than $6 billion from December 2016.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest increase at 37.8 percent after an increase of 46 percent in November. Trucks accounted for an increase of 5.4 percent. Truck freight experienced modest increases of 8.1 in November and 5.7 percent in October.

More than 55 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at more than 15 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went up by more than 5 percent compared with December 2016. Of the $44.8 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried nearly 67 percent of the loads.