Feb 10, 2020 - Economy & Business

North American rail traffic continued to slow in 2019

Data: Association of American Railroads; Table: Axios Visuals

North American rail traffic continued to decline in January, with U.S. rail carloads dropping by 5.9%, or 73,110 carloads, year over year, according to the latest report from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Why it matters: It was the 12th straight month of decline, and both major rail shipments — coal (down 13.8%) and grain (down 11.6%) — had what AAR termed "lousy Januarys," accounting for a decline of 68,790 carloads for the month.

The big picture: The report suggests that improved sentiment from the U.S.-China phase one trade deal and apparent Brexit resolution has yet to make its way to the bottom line. Railroads continue to see declining numbers despite the pickup in global manufacturing reports.

Yes, but: Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads were down just 0.6% in January, which was the smallest decline in a year.

Go deeper: Railroads cut workers as industry automates, implements cost-cutting strategies

Go deeper

Senators warn of threats posed by Chinese rail companies

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Two U.S. senators are urging the Federal Transit Authority to clarify a ban on Chinese rail manufacturers and to warn local transit authorities of potential national security threats from China, in a letter obtained by Axios.

The big picture: The ban highlights a growing expansion of national security risks to include economic security, as the U.S. responds to Chinese government economic policies that many perceive as exploitative.

Go deeperArrowFeb 20, 2020 - World

Wind and solar would struggle to replace coal-mining jobs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A global transition is underway from coal to renewable energy, but a corresponding jobs shift is far less certain.

Driving the news: Wind-industry jobs aren’t a “feasible” replacement for local coal-mining jobs in the world’s four biggest coal-producing nations, and although solar is better situated than wind, it would require a massive buildout, a new peer-reviewed report finds.

Americans want to buy homes, but they're disappearing

Reproduced from Fannie Mae; Chart: Axios Visuals

The steady decline in U.S. interest rates helped the housing sector recover from its malaise in early 2019, and the momentum is continuing so far in 2020.

Yes but: Prospective homeowners are finding it increasingly difficult to find a home, as the lower rates have brought on increased selling prices and fewer available homes.