Supply Chain Insights

Why it still feels like a recession for many

Goods demand is growing off a floor but still diminished compared to pandemic era


Chart of the Week: Inbound Ocean TEUs Index, Outbound Tender Volume Index A SONAR: IOTI.USA, OTVI.USA

Import demand based on bookings of twenty-foot equivalent units heading into the U.S.

(IOTI) remains down compared to two years ago, but only slightly. Truckload tender volumes (OTVI) are down roughly 25% compared to the same period in 2022. These two figures are effective indicators of goods demand in the U.S. This is the perspective of deterioration that many businesses are still coping with even as GDP figures seem strong. 

Many sectors of the economy are still adjusting to the fallout from the pandemic-era hypergrowth, making an annual figure less representative of their experience. Transportation has been one of the most significantly impacted.

Inflation-adjusted real GDP growth once again seemed to surprise to the upside with a 3.1% annual growth figure in the fourth quarter of 2023. Many companies did not feel this historically strong growth as they have in the past. It all has to do with adaptation and perspective.