U.S. Traffic Volume Reaches 2-Year High in August
The Federal Highway Administration reported today that travel on all roads and streets in the U.S. increased by +1.6% in August 2010 compared to the same month last year. Total travel for the month of August was estimated at 267.4 billion vehicle miles, the second highest travel volume for the month of August, just 0.50% below the all-time August record in 2007 of 268.7 billion miles. The August increase in traffic was the third consecutive monthly increase, and the fifth increase in the last six months.
On a moving 12-month total basis, the annual vehicle-distance traveled through August was 2,987 billion miles, the highest 12-month total since August 2008, two years ago (see chart).
Following a sharp decline in U.S. traffic volume (moving 12-month basis) that started in late 2007 and ended at a cyclical low in May 2009, traffic volume has been gradually increasing as both personal and commercial travel on U.S. roads and highways have rebounded (see graph above). Note that the cyclical pattern of traffic pattern over the last three years, especially the sharp decline from late 2007 to May 2009, coincided almost perfectly with the official U.S. recession period from December 2007 to June 2009 (shaded area in graph). The sustained and ongoing improvements in vehicle miles since the summer of 2009 indicate that the U.S. economy is recovering gradually, and weakens the chances of a double-dip recession.
In contrast, Nouriel Roubini still expects a 35-40% chance of a double-dip.