The amount of cargo shipped and the price of those shipments in March rose by 6.6 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively, compared to February, according to the the Cass Freight Index Report.
Compared to March 2013, shipments ticked up by 0.4 percent, but the strong month-to-month gain is a continuation of the 7.3-percent increase measured between January and February. A steady increase in truck traffic may be fueling this increase, and the number of railroad carloads and intermodal loadings also rose significantly.
Expenditures increased by 5.3 percent, year over year, after an increase of 5.4 percent between January and February.
"Expenditures rose at a slower rate than volumes, indicating that most of the increase can be attributed to the change in volume," Cass wrote. "This is the second-highest point the payments index has reached in four years."
For Cass, the signs are encouraging, and the organization noted that the large backlog in manufacturing and production, combined with new orders, will be good for the freight sector moving forward. Cass also noted that car sales rose in March, a good sign for recovery in the construction sector.
"All in all, lots of strengthening in the economy, but taking everything into consideration the signals are still mixed," Cass wrote. "It will be interesting to see if we can continue to climb up or if we will keep with the trend of recent years and stumble in the second quarter."