Federal Reserve reports trucking strong in some districts

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The Federal Reserve reported a robust demand for trucking and rail shipping services in several districts in January and February, while the overall economy continued to grow. The report, called the Beige Book, is based on comments received from businesses in each of the Reserve’s 12 districts.

Demand for trucking and rail shipping services remained strong in Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas; some districts reported stronger January activity than February. A shortage of truckers was cited in the Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo. districts, and some Cleveland district carriers raised wages to attract and retain drivers.

In Cleveland’s district, demand for trucking and shipping was strong across several industries. Still, high fuel costs were a concern, even though carriers have maintained their surcharges. “Many contacts reported raising their base shipping rates at the beginning of the year, though none planned subsequent increases in the foreseeable future,” the report stated.

Also in Cleveland, capital spending remained “extremely strong” as carriers try to buy trucks before impending Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. Chicago reported that heavy- and medium-duty truck orders were brisk as carriers attempt to pre-buy. One industry analyst said 2006 order books will be full by May, and then orders will decrease significantly.

The entire report is available at www.federalreserve.gov.