U.S. supply chain and logistics industry continues slow rebound led by rail and trucking

The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) released its 23rd Annual "State of Logistics Report," presented by Penske Logistics. The report reveals that total U.S. business logistics costs in 2011 rose to $1.28 trillion, a 6.6 percent increase from the previous year and accounting for 8.5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

The report also stated that trucking costs rose 6.2 percent in 2011, with the intercity truck segment up 6.9 percent and the local delivery segment up 4.7 percent; for 2011, the truck driver turnover rate for large truckload companies was 83 percent, the highest it has been since 2007 , according to the American Trucking Association; new registrations for trucks were up 38.2 percent for the year; the industry is increasingly relying on intermodal rail to offset the impacts of driver shortages and high equipment costs; and government regulations, such as CSA have already had the impact of reducing capacity in the industry

The report, authored by transportation consultant Rosalyn Wilson of Delcan, Inc., has tracked and measured all costs associated with moving freight through the U.S. supply chain since 1988. This year's report presents an overview of the economy over the past year, the logistics industry's key trends, and the total U.S. logistics costs for 2011. It also examines which sectors of the industry are recovering, which are facing challenges, and areas that can be targeted for increased investment. The research concludes with a brief overview of industry indicators for the remainder of 2012. The supply chain management benchmark report is now available for distribution.

This year's report reveals that with overall revenue 15.3 percent higher than 2010, railroads gained market share, especially in intermodal, and did not experience capacity problems faced by the trucking sector. Trucking companies are also using intermodal rail help to offset the impacts of driver shortages and the costs of acquiring and maintaining new equipment. In spite of tightening capacity and an overall decline in volume, trucking rates were up 5 to 15 percent in 2011.

Even with the air cargo sector's record year for exports, the industry still experienced a decline, with domestic air cargo revenue down more than 3 percent compared with less than a 1 percent decline in international revenue. Ocean carriers' woes continued with growing excess capacity, rate erosion, service declines, and operational losses.

Inventory carrying costs in 2011 continued their rising trend and overall inventories have returned to pre-recession levels, which could be a cause for concern for the economy. The growth has occurred among wholesalers and manufacturers while retail inventories remained flat, indicating that inventory management processes have changed.

"Part of our mission at CSCMP is to develop and disseminate research that helps our members understand how to do their jobs better," said Rick Blasgen, president and chief executive officer of the CSCMP. "Knowing how logistics and supply chain costs affect and are affected by the larger economy is a key part of this understanding. This is why we believe it's important to sponsor the annual 'State of Logistics Report,' which we present with support from Penske Logistics."

"The statistics and industry insights contained in this report will help companies better prepare for the business demands that lie ahead," Blasgen added. We look forward once again to working with Penske's thought leaders to present this year's research and translate its findings into real world terms."

"This report consistently delivers key insights that paint a broad picture of the supply chain industry and the U.S. economy," said Joe Gallick, Senior Vice President – Sales for Penske Logistics.  "We're pleased to be sponsoring this widely followed report once again."