ACT Research: COVID-19 Impact Continues, But Improvement Showing in Data

According to ACT Research’s recently released Transportation Digest, the shock waves of the COVID-19 recession continue to depress both the North American and global economies, with June marking the fourth month of what will go down in the record books as the most severe business cycle downturn since the Great Depression. The report noted that the extent of the shock was a near total surprise to businesses and forecasters in the months of March and April.

In recognition of the virus’ impact, ACT Research has created an easily accessible COVID-19 MARKET WATCH webpage to track noteworthy high frequency macroeconomic and transportation-specific market indicators, which can be found at

The report, which combines proprietary ACT data and analysis from a wide variety of sources, paints a comprehensive picture of trends impacting transportation and commercial vehicle markets. This monthly report is designed as a quick look at transportation insights for use by fleet and trucking executives, reviewing top-level considerations such as for-hire indices, freight, heavy and medium duty segments, the US trailer market, used truck sales information, and an overview of the US macro economy.

Used 06.26.20

“In February, when the impact of the coronavirus was still viewed skeptically, ACT Research anticipated a 33% drop in Class 8 North American retail sales in 2020, but of course that worsened as the full impact of the virus began to reveal itself,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst. He added, “The impact of COVID-19 was to take a flattish economy and push it over the cliff.”

Vieth continued, “Paradoxically, freight surged as the economy fell, with a stampede to stuff pantries, a rush on medical supplies, an uptick in technological products for work-from-home demand, and a build-up of safety stocks behind the March transportation spike.” He further explained, “As the recession tightened its grip, April marked the low point for freight, with daily indicators on loads, tender volumes and freight rates hitting bottom. That said, even as high-level macro indicators, like employment and industrial production, showed decline, freight started to recover in late April and into May, reflecting the nascent revival of supply chain activity. These same daily indicators showed improvement and growing momentum all through May.”

Vieth remains cautiously optimistic that there is an end in sight economically, “We continue to anticipate a transition into a slow recovery, that will gain speed as we proceed through the second half of this year and into 2021, with the caveat that there are still many unanswered questions about the trajectory of the virus and the impending recovery.”

ACT Research is recognized as the leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies. ACT Research is a contributor to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators and a member of the Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Panel. ACT Research executives have received peer recognition, including election to the Board of Directors of the National Association for Business Economics, appointment as Consulting Economist to the National Private Truck Council, and the Lawrence R. Klein Award for Blue Chip Economic Indicators’ Most Accurate Economic Forecast over a four-year period. ACT Research senior staff members have earned accolades including Chicago Federal Reserve Automotive Outlook Symposium Best Overall Forecast, Wall Street Journal Top Economic Outlook, and USA Today Top 10 Economic Forecasters. More information can be found at

ACT’s 63rd seminar is scheduled for August 11-13, 2020. Focused on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will feature dealer, alternative power, and economic panels, as well as discussions on near-term demand of North American commercial vehicle markets and the pending impact of alternative power on the market in the near future. This even is offered as a livestream option for those who wish to participate.

Click below to: 

Get seminar information.

Access information about ACT’s Transportation Digest.

Get more information about additional ACT’s Transportation Publications and Services, click here.

Access May's Transportation Digest Press Release. 

Access ACT's COVID-19 Market Watch.

Access In the News Page.

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