May 12, 2020 - Economy

Freight volume hits all-time low as coronavirus crushes the transportation industry

Data: Association of American Railroads; Table: Axios Visuals

Already facing an industry-wide recession coming into the year, the coronavirus pandemic has leveled the global transportation industry and pushed U.S. freight volume to its largest year-over-year percentage decline since the Association of American Railroads began collecting data in 1989.

By the numbers: The total number of originated carloads on U.S. railroads last month averaged 196,107 per week, "easily the lowest weekly average for any month since before January 1988, when our data began," AAR analysts wrote in the latest monthly assessment of the industry, "Real Time Indicators."

  • "In fact, the five months from December 2019 through April 2020 are the five lowest-volume months (measured by weekly average total carloads) since before 1988."
  • "In April 2020, total carloads were down 25.2%, or 329,693 carloads, from last April. That’s the biggest year-over-year monthly percentage decline since our data began."

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