Year-to-year NAFTA trucking freight down first time in two years

June 25, 2019

Tyson Fisher


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in April trucks moved 62% of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. However, trucking experienced the only yearly decrease among the five freight modes, the first since April 2017.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by 2.5% compared with March, when freight increased by nearly 14% from the previous month. April marks the largest month-to-month decrease since December, when freight was down 10% from November.

Compared to April 2018, freight was up 1.8% following a similar increase in March and a 0.2% increase in February. December’s decrease broke a 25-month streak of year-to-year increases. The last year-to-year decrease before that occurred in October 2016.

In 2018, NAFTA freight increased by more than 7% compared to the previous year, with 63% of that freight carried by trucks. April’s increase puts NAFTA at a 0.6% increase for the year so far.

Trucks carried more than $65 billion of the nearly $105 billion of imports and exports in April.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight decreased by 0.4%, whereas Mexico freight rose by more than 4%. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, motor vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, plastics, and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $104.549 billion, down nearly $3 billion from the previous month but an increase of nearly $2 billion from April 2018.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest increase at 14.4% after an increase of 3% in March. Pipeline had the second highest increase at 12.8%, followed by rail with a 6.3% increase. Truck freight experienced the only yearly decrease at 1%, deviating from a pattern of increases in March (1.3%), February (1.3%) and January (4.1%). In fact, the last yearly decrease for trucking was a 5.5% decrease in April 2017.

Nearly 56% of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 16%. Of the nearly $53 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 69% 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.