Wednesday, September 23, 2009

American Consumers Get Their Driving Mojo Back; Largest Monthly Travel Increase Since Jan. 2006

The chart above shows the percent change in U.S. traffic volume through July (from the same month in the previous year), in a report released today by the Federal Highway Adminstration (data and report here). After falling for 17 consecutive months starting in November 2007, traffic volume has increased in three of the last four months. The 2.3% July increase was the largest monthly gain since January 2006, and matches the 2.3% increase in October 2006.

The chart below shows traffic volume as a moving 12-month total, with a similar pattern to the percentage monthly increase above. After falling for 16 straight months going back to December 2007, the moving 12-month total has now increased in 3 out of the last 4 months to the highest level since last year.

MP: Another sign that the recession probably ended in June.


At 9/23/2009 7:58 PM, Anonymous Dione said...

Another sign gasoline prices fell more than $1 a gallon since last year.

With gas prices peaking in July 2008, watch this chart lose its "mojo" next month and for the rest of the year.

At 9/23/2009 8:35 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

Pretty clear sign that the economy is improving. Gas prices should decline further after today's oil inventory numbers.

At 9/23/2009 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dione, I'm pretty sure multiple people raised the same point last month.

Don't cast your pearls before swine.

At 9/24/2009 8:29 AM, Blogger John Thacker said...


Yes and no. Part of the moves are explained by gas prices. But gas was down in January 2009 as much from January 2008 as it is now from one year ago, and massive declines still occurred in the early part of this year.

At 9/24/2009 8:57 PM, Anonymous Dione said...

Well John, it seems you need a course in economics. No one should expect precisely the same decline in VMT even from an identical decline in prices at different times. There are many things which affect VMT and you have to hold all these factors constant when you compare one period to another.

Why do so many people on an economics blog not know all the determinants of demand?

The leap year and the month in which Easter falls affect year over year comparisons in February, March, and April. School schedules affect May, June, August and September. Winter weather variations affect November through March.

Is two variable analysis the limit of cognitive ability on this site? I expect only ywo variable charts on a two dimesional computer screen, but I expect multidimensional thinking.


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