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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The amount of stuff shipped across the U.S. fell in July. But it wasn’t because of lack of demand.

Why it matters: Constraints along these domestic supply chains continue to hold back economic activity. And worse, they’re causing the prices of the limited goods to inflate.

By the numbers: The Cass Freight Index tracks data derived from across all modes of freight. The shipments component of the index fell 3.1% month over month in July.

What they’re saying: Cass attributes these volume declines largely to lack of equipment and drivers in rail and trucking.

  • "Shipment volumes remain limited to no small extent by the capacity of the freight network, as the 121 containerships anchored off North American ports on August 10th attest to," the firm said in a release.
  • "The driver shortage is made worse by the federal drug and alcohol clearinghouse that has pulled 60,000 drivers off the road for violations," FreightWaves Detroit bureau chief Alan Adler tells Axios.

Yes, but: Volumes are up relative to pre-pandemic levels.

Go deeper

Retail's mixed bag

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Retail sales fell by a lot more than experts expected in July. However, the shopping trends underlying the data don’t paint a picture of nervous consumers pulling back amid renewed COVID concerns.

Why it matters: The recent spike in COVID cases amid the spread of the Delta variant has taken a toll on consumer sentiment. Should that drop in sentiment translate into a significant downturn in actual spending, the U.S. economic recovery could be thrown off track.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Nor'easter slams East Coast with flooding rain and powerful winds

A residential area in Middlesex County as floodwater from the nor'easter covers streets in New Jersey on Tuesday. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.

1 hour ago - World

Blinken speaks with Sudan prime minister after his release

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok. Photo: Ebrahim Hamid/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke on the phone on Tuesday evening with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok after the military released him from custody.

Why it matters: Hamdok’s release was a result of pressure on Sudan’s military leader General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan from the U.S. and other countries but also from the different political parties in Sudan and massive protests in the streets.